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3 Simple Ways to Advance Literacy in Your Community

"The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.” - Mark Twain


Since 1967, International Literacy Day (ILD) celebrations have taken place on 8th September annually around the world to remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights, and to advance the literacy agenda toward a more literate and sustainable society. 


Despite progress made, literacy challenges persist with at least 771 million young people and adults lacking basic literacy skills today. 


School closures and disruptions caused by the pandemic have likely driven learning losses and drop-outs, especially in less-developed countries or regions. In the aftermath of the pandemic, nearly 24 million learners might never return to formal education, out of which, 11 million are projected to be girls and young women. 


This year’s International Literacy Day will be celebrated worldwide under the theme, Transforming Literacy Learning Spaces, and will be an opportunity to rethink the fundamental importance of literacy learning spaces to build resilience and ensure quality, equitable, and inclusive education for all.


Here are some simple, yet impactful ways we can take action to advance literacy. 


Tutor a child in your community


The ability to read is a launching point for academic achievement and long-term success. At a more basic level, literacy is a necessary skill for daily life. From reading a menu to understanding bills to completing a rental agreement, reading is essential. 


No matter what barriers students may face, kids are incredibly resilient and very motivated to learn. The support of a tutor offering one-on-one attention is a game changer for students wanting to advance their skills to catch up to their appropriate grade level in reading. 


Tutoring a local child for one hour or 30 minutes per week is not only the best way to make a direct and lasting impact on the child, but is also a great volunteering experience for your personal development. 


Collect books to build kids’ home libraries


It’s no secret that having exposure to books at home has a tremendous impact on literacy development and cognition. You can collect suitable books from your friends and family and donate them to your local community library or your neighbours’ home libraries. 


Start a book club in your community


If you are looking for a way to become more literacy-focused in your own life, then starting a local book club is a fantastic way to enrich your personal development. You can do this in public spaces in your community or simply via Zoom/Google Meet. 


Reading can lower levels of stress, increase brain function, and boost overall levels of happiness and life satisfaction. Let’s use International Literacy Day as the perfect excuse to launch your book club! 


Here are some quick tips for making your club a resounding success:


  • Pick a book that is approachable and beneficial to all participants. 
  • Find a time that works for everyone. Get input from participants about how often and at what time everyone can meet.
  • Don’t stress about reading the whole book in one week. Your book club will be more approachable if you set easy and inclusive benchmarks. Start with one chapter or section per month.
  • Prepare for productive conversations. The facilitator should come prepared with some interesting discussion questions and topics of conversation from the text. 


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