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. (begintoread.com)
photos by UNESCO.org
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.
"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.
"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!