International Literacy Day: Reading Today for a Better Tomorrow
Every year, September 8 is recognized as International Literacy Day. It aims to raise awareness on the importance of child and adult literacy from all communities across the globe. In line with identifying key issues surrounding literacy, this day serves as a call to action to recognize education as a basic human right.
What is literacy? It’s the ability to read, write, and communicate while making sense of the world around us. Literacy Day is about more than just reading, it’s also about giving value to learning. It brings to light the impact of education on ourselves and our children.
Why International Literacy Day?
Established by UNESCO in 1966, Literacy Day highlights how education paves the way for societies to reduce poverty and to develop and build a better future. Promoting a literate community empowers its members to improve their lives.
In order to learn, we need to read; this enables us to become more skilled and more competent to face tomorrow.
UNICEF reports that in the 21st century, nearly 1 billion people worldwide are unable to read a book or even sign their name. More women across the globe have poor to zero literacy skills and in the US, 1 in every 4 children grows up not being able to read.
Statistically, being illiterate is correlated to a higher percentage of high school dropouts. A huge number of these youngsters may end up incarcerated or may struggle to make ends meet as they grow up. These negative impacts are disproportionately visible in underrepresented communities.
The Impact of Reading
As part of raising awareness on the alarming issues of literacy, the UN calls upon policymakers to ensure that access to education is granted to as many learners as possible. It’s a reality check that tells us that we, including our children, are not reading as well as we should be.
In North America, research shows that 2/3 of kids are reading below grade level by the time they reach 4th grade - a crucial milestone in their learning journey. Without intervention, these kids will struggle throughout middle school and high school, and in the most severe cases, this struggle leads to dropouts and a complete dissociation with learning altogether.
This is why evidence-based learning and regular assessments are so important in the early years. It’s vital to empower educators and parents with learning tools, strategies, and timely data on reading performance levels. Personalizing reading intervention strategies for each learner’s strengths and areas for improvement can significantly improve skills that need more focus to ensure all children can become proficient readers.
At Hoot Reading, our mission is to close the Fourth Grade Reading Slump to ensure that all children become proficient readers. Through evidence-based instruction by experienced classroom teachers, we deliver personalized, one-to-one reading lessons to children during school time, at home, or through our partners like Lead To Read KC and BGC Canada. Our vision is to give all children access to literacy support in order to unlock their potential as engaged citizens and future leaders.
The Future of Literacy
Now is the time for reading to be in the spotlight. Due to learning loss brought on by the pandemic, test scores show 9-year-olds’ reading abilities have dropped to the levels from twenty years ago, erasing nearly two decades of progress.
Literacy rates among children in North America are now at their lowest since assessments were first done in the 1970s, and as the article mentions, “[t]he setbacks could have powerful consequences for a generation of children who must move beyond basics in elementary school to thrive later on.”
In this digital age, giving kids access to relevant reading materials and reading intervention programs are more possible than ever. Effective assessment methods should also be used to closely monitor progress (and in some cases, regress).
Literacy Day reminds us as parents, guardians, and educators that we can make a real difference for the readers in our lives. Today we are reminded that developing literacy skills will ensure a better tomorrow. It might start with simply reading a book with our little ones and hearing them read aloud to us - and trying to do this regularly. This way, we’ll always remember the importance of building these fundamental skills, not just on Literacy Day, but everyday.