This Sunday is International Literacy Day, an annual event held September 8th to raise people’s awareness of and concern for literacy issues around the world. This date was first claimed for the promotion of literacy by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in November 1965, with the first Literacy Day taking place on September 8, 1966. Since that time, UNESCO banners proclaiming “Literacy is the best remedy” have flown in celebrations everywhere from Canada to the Congo.
Fast Facts (from UNESCO):
- Some 774 million adults lack minimum literacy skills
- One in five adults is still not literate and two-thirds of them are women
- About 75 million children do not attend school and many more attend irregularly or drop out altogether
- The good news is that there are nearly four billion literate people in the world!
Founded on the cornerstone belief that literacy is a basic human right, International Literacy Day takes on a different theme every year and “Literacies for the 21st Century” is the focus for 2013. How can you help to highlight the importance of literacy as the heart of basic education for everyone in our modern age? Here are some great events and suggestions to make a difference this weekend:
Head to the Centre of it All in Paris, France
The UNESCO Headquarters in Paris will be host to a two-day conference focusing on “Advancing Towards a Literate Twenty-First Century.”
Put Your Civic Rights to Work
Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, highlighting news reports about concerns for low literacy levels and letting your community know about local literary events. Check out what events are happening around town, or take a page from the County of Lethbridge and have a Stanley & Iris movie night or an afternoon of old-fashioned letter writing!
Join the International Reading Association in “Inventing Your Future”
To increase participation from schools, libraries, organisations and corporations, the International Reading Association will observe International Literacy Day on Monday, September 9, 2013, and continue the celebration throughout the month of September. Are you a teacher? Grab your 2013 International Literacy Event kit here!
Show your support for UNESCO and IRA by participating in the IRA/Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 Twitter chat (with the star, Bill Hader!) on Monday, September 9th at 8pm by using the hashtag #IRAchat to join. Or, spread the word about International Literacy Day and the importance of its goals by tweeting about it to your followers!
Exercise Your Own Literacy Skills!
Literacy begins at home, and what better way to promote it than to get reading with your loved ones? Recommend a book to a friend, join a book club or read with your children to share the joy of the printed word.