Behind the Blog

Behind the Blog #18; International Literacy Day


Behind the Blog is a meme to help bloggers connect their life and interests to the content showcased on their blog. The co-hosts, Faye, Kathe, and Melissa will provide a different topic, idea, or question every week that bloggers can relate to themselves and the books, films, or other media they find interesting!

September 8th was International Literacy Day. Literacy is defined as the ability to read and write by age 15. According to the CIA World Factbook currently 83.7 percent of the world population is literate. While that is a significant portion of the world population, it unfortunately doesn’t include everyone. Learning to read and write is an important skill that impacts a person’s entire life. How different do you think your life would be if you weren’t able to read and write? Many libraries offer literacy programs. Have you every volunteered to help at one? In relation to books: Have you ever read any books where the main character struggles with illiteracy?

Reading and writing are such a large part of my life that the idea of thinking how different my life would be if I couldn’t is incredibly difficult and saddening to me. Reading isn’t just a past-time for me, it isn’t just something I do because I can. It is something I do because I love, it is something that brings me joy, sadness, anger, elation and hope. Reading, to me, is life. This isn’t the case for every literate person in the world; in fact I live with two sisters who read simply because they can and need to.

With the world rapidly turning to the internet, the ability to read is quickly becoming more crucial then it ever has been before. It truly saddens me to think that there are people out there who are in their adult years who cannot read or write but I also fully believe that there is also nothing wrong with them. Learning to read and write is often seen as a privilege, this is what is wrong. It should be a necessity that everyone who is able should have the ability to learn how to read and write. This is where the world needs to go, we need to adapt to the new times and help those in need.

I cannot say that I am an expect on this subject. I’ve, regrettably, never done any research but when I heard about International Literacy Day, I was overjoyed and glad that there are people out there willing to help. So many people are willing to take it for granted that they can read. If you don’t have the ability you may never be able to take the bus, to drive a car, to go food shopping to buy new items, to fill out forms, to use mobile phones, or laptops. So much of what we do in our day-to-day lives require us to read and this ability is often taken for granted, with many barely thinking about not being able to do so. This needs to change. More people need to understand that some people see the world differently and may just need our help.

Of course, it’s not just about reading but writing as well. Another ability that we all use in our day-to-day lives without even noting how much. Texting? E-mailing? Signing for mail? Writing shopping lists? Some people aren’t able to do any of these things because they simply can not write. They don’t know how to pick up a pen to form words, they don’t know how to type or what to type and they often go by without being noticed. Others don’t understand or may mock them, or feel that they are just being lazy if they ask someone else to read something for them. For example, a twenty-three year old asks you to read the menu in a restaurant to them so that they can choose what they want. The obnoxious answer (and snotty one) is to simply assume they’re being rude and comment ‘Can’t you read?’. Chances are, they probably can’t because it’s not an ability everyone has.

Personally I feel the illiterate need more coverage and awareness. Too many people are in the dark about the real statistics and I think that days like International Literary Day is a great way to do this. In my local library on the day we had the local radio station come in and do a story-time with the children to support it and I was so glad to be able to witness it. And throughout this summer I volunteered for the Summer Reading Challenge where 4-11 year olds were challenged to read six library books over the summer and being able to encourage young children to read was the most amazing experience and the knowledge that there are some children who will never take part because they simply can’t read is devastating to me.

I guess what I’m trying to say is I can not imagine my life without the ability to write and read and I hope that in a few years time, that percentage will have gone up a large proportion so that even more people are given the chance and the opportunity to live life with these abilities.

But now that you’ve got to here, why don’t you join us!
Behind the Blog is a new meme for bloggers themselves. To find out more, check out the introduction on my blog or that on Kathe’s.
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One Comment

  • Nikki

    I think this is a brilliant meme and I love that literacy awareness was a topic that was picked. It’s easy to lose sight of the bigger issues when we’re busy blogging about our favourite books and authors.

    Another interesting topic is the difference between those who can write and those who can write well. Often, I’ve seen a degridation and shift in the way we speak/write. Perhaps this is because of the techonological revolution, but as a grammar enthusiast and writer, I find it sort of disheartening. Just a thought! Great job!

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