Sunday, September 12, 2010

International Literacy Day

 Because I was away at Camp Joy on September 8th, I missed the commemoration of International Literacy Day.  As a teacher, this cause is very near and dear to my heart, because I get to witness the effects of illiteracy on a daily basis.  It's not just my students with learning disabilities who struggle with reading, but a shockingly large proportion of the 'regular' kids as well.
I don't want to get all preachy here, so I'll just give you a few facts:

According to UN analysis ... some 776 million people lack minimum literacy skills, that means one in five adults [worldwide} are yet illiterate (International Literacy Day 2010).

According to the U.S. Department of Education, functional illiteracy affects some twenty-four million Americans, preventing them from understanding basic instructions, filling out an application for a social security card, or reading a map.  They can indeed read, but with minimal comprehension.

Two Thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare.

More than 60 percent of all prison inmates are functionally illiterate. (

photos by
Adopted in the year 1965 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the International Literacy Day is observed every year...[on September 8th], with the goal of raising awareness of illiteracy and its consequences.

The International Literacy Day 2010 website states:  Literacy is not just about educating, it is a unique and powerful tool to eradicate poverty and a strong means for social and human progress. The focus of literacy lies in acquiring basic education for all, eradicating poverty, reducing infant mortality, simmering down population growth, reaching gender equality and ensuring constant development, peace and democracy.

A good place to learn more about literacy and how you can help is Global Literacy Project, Inc.

In honor of International Literacy Day, I thought it would be nice to share with you some of the books I've been reading lately.  I recently finished "As Far as the Eye Can See: Reflections of an Appalachian Trail Hiker" by David Brill.  A memoir of the author's adventures while hiking the full 2,100 mile length of the Appalachian Trail, this book is a quick, easy, and entertaining read.  Though many of the anecdotes related here made me laugh out loud, it's also the story of how the five-month long experience changed the author as a person.

As for fiction, I recently read Paolo Bacigalupi's "The Windup Girl" , a sort of futuristic dystopian novel set in an all too possible future where the dire predictions about humans' destruction of the environment have come true.  Genetic engineering and agribusiness have gone wild, along with global warming.  Emiko is the windup girl, genetically engineered to serve humans, and said to have no soul.  What happens when she becomes involved in the ensuing fight to dominate the calories trade reads like a fast-paced crime novel.  What makes this book so compelling (beyond the subjects it explores) is the richly detailed world created by Bacigalupi, so real you can see it.  The novel won Bacigalupi several awards, and they are well-deserved.

I hope this post didn't bore you, and even perhaps that you gained something from it.  If you enjoyed the book reviews, let me know; I may do it again sometime.  Enjoy your day!


  1. Ironically I was just talking to somebody earlier today about the impact of teachers on us all. This post just highlights the important role you all play!

  2. Thanks, Seth; we really do appreciate your support!

  3. education is everything. Both my parents have paid for kids in developing countries to be educated but it really has to be addressed at home.

  4. fantastic post!! reading and literacy have always been extremely important in our home and perhaps because i started reading to my son fresh from the womb, he's book obsessed. he will read 3 to 5 300+ paged books per week and i LOVE that! he's just starting 2nd grade and as of the past two weeks, i've started home schooling. i have always loved and appreciated teachers as a whole, but now i worship you! one student can be tough -- i cannot imagine having 20+.

    thank you so much for your sweet comments on my blog. the doll is a frozen charlotte that i've altered -- they are made of bisque or porcelain (this one is porcelain). the wings were charms i rusted and attached to the back.

    p.s. that book looks quite intriguing as well.

  5. A fabo post on regarding the need for awareness and shocking to see the statistics you report.
    Speaking of a report...I LOVE your synopsis...sounds like a thrill of a read.
    My partner just finished reading Feed...same sortof dire story line...may we all learn to avery a future in which we would not want to take part.

  6. avert...may we all learn to avert a future in which we would not want to take part

  7. Hi Whitney! You're so right- home is where that sense of the value of education has to start. Ironically, kids in countries where they don't have public education systems would do anything to be able to go to school, while kids in countries like ours view it as worthless.

    Altered bits- I'm so happy to hear about your son's love of reading; it will serve him well throughout life. Good luck with your home-schooling; I admire your dedication!

    Donna- I did think that was one of the best books I've read in quite a while. I'll have to check out the one your partner read, too. And yes, I fervently hope we can avert that future.


Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with me. I'm happy to reply here, but may not always have time for individual emails.