Declared by UNESCO on 26 October 1966 at the 14th session of their General Conference, International Literacy Day aims to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities, and societies.
This year, its theme is “Literacy for a human-centered recovery: Narrowing the digital divide”. According to the UNESCO website, the reasoning behind this theme is:
The COVID-19 crisis has disrupted the learning of children, young people and adults at an unprecedented scale. It has also magnified the pre-existing inequalities in access to meaningful literacy learning opportunities, disproportionally affecting 773 million non-literate young people and adults. Youth and adult literacy were absent in many initial national response plans, while numerous literacy programmes have been forced to halt their usual modes of operation.
So, how do we celebrate International Literacy Day, you may ask?
First, be grateful for the opportunities you have that have led you to be able to read this article in the first place. There are a lot of people out there that don’t have this kind of privilege.
Second, you could donate books and reading tools to your local classrooms. Teachers are always going above and beyond to provide for their students, many times even out of their own paychecks, so reach out to your local schools and see how you can provide reading material for their classrooms.
Third, if you have someone special in your life, whether it’s a child, a teenager, or even an adult, gift them a book that talks about their interests. Reading is an amazing way to learn and helps stir the imagination. If you know someone who has a hard time reading (like someone with Dyslexia, consider getting them an audio book. It still counts).
Fourth, if you don’t already have one in your area, start a community lending library or a “Free Little Library.” The latter option was invented by Todd Bol of Hudson, Wisconsin, in 2009. The library is based on the concept of “take a book, return a book” which is based on the honor system. The plus side to these libraries is that they are accessible 24/7 and they don’t have any late fees or fines.