How can we empower everyone?
Reading is something that's easy to take for granted. Especially now that so many of us probably do more of it than ever - through daily texting, email and other written communications.
Can you even imagine not being able to read? Would you be able to navigate life? It's an incredible thing to think about.
According to UNESCO, "despite the steady rise in literacy rates over the past 50 years, there are still 773 million illiterate adults around the world, most of whom are women". I was quite stunned when I read that.
This Thursday, September 8th is International Literacy Day. While many students return to the classroom this week, our thoughts have turned to education, school supplies, libraries and literacy.
We all know that learning anything is most effective when we start young. In the Niagara Region, many people, including volunteers, help children with learning disabilities through our chapter of the Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario (LDAO). The services offered here are meaningful and can have a lifelong impact.
Although starting young is ideal, hope is not lost when people reach adulthood without learning how to read. In our region, we offer services to adults through Literary Link Niagara. There're other programs offered through school boards and the Niagara Region Learning Centre, which also teaches computer literacy.
In addition to teaching others to read, we empower each other by sharing our love of all things literary. Many schools have volunteer programs where people can read to students. We can read to little ones (and kids-at-heart) in our life. We can share books we have, and donate and gift reading materials to others. We can also share our writing with others.
Another way we celebrate literacy is through author events and book festivals. Aptly, this Thursday, September 8th is also the kick-off to Coast to Coast "Canada's Self-Discovered Women" Literary Series in Queenston. This month's guest of honour is Jen Ferguson. Click anywhere on this paragraph to see details and the full line-up for the season.
Also starting this month and running until October 2nd is the return of the Toronto International Festival of Authors. A few names you may recognize amongst the guests this year include Alexander McCall Smith, Ian McEwan, Marian Keyes, Gabor Maté and Sarah Polley. There will also be workshops, exhibitions and other formats, including walking tours.
Do you know anyone who overcame literacy challenges or is facing them now? Perhaps you have young children, or you're a teacher. If it's of any interest, here's a link to The Literacy Blog, which includes a free online course for parents and carers.
Although it's back-to-school season for many, it's still summer and certainly warm enough to continue reading outdoors. We hope you have a few minutes this week to curl up with a good read outside in the celestial September sunlight!