8th of September: International Literacy Day

“Literacy is the most basic currency of the knowledge economy”
– Barack Obama

Since probably 1999, when I actually developed the ability to think, question, and understand, I enjoyed books. Not reading them at that time, of course, but having them read to me, and my parents read a lot to me. The huge variety of writing styles and all the different stories definitely had a great part in making me the person I am today. The ability to read provided me with access to knowledge and helped me develop diverse thoughts and opinions, the ability to write helped me to learn how to express them. I cannot imagine the universes, the knowledge, and with it the power of mind that I would have missed out on if I had never learned to read. For me, reading was a matter of course, for most of us it probably was. However, roundabout 14% of the world’s population is illiterate and the pandemic only made it worse. So this year’s ILD is about “narrowing the digital divide”. When all of a sudden the world went online, the effects of insufficient access to the internet, electricity, and digital skills in less economically developed countries became more evident and problematic.

Of course, there are many ways to also support the countries in question, but we also need to raise awareness for illiteracy in the classroom and simultaneously emphasise the importance of reading itself. I noticed that remote schooling and learning lead to a decline of the desire and also of the overall ability to read. So it’s definitely necessary to find ways, maybe also new and more creative ones, to discover and motivate the reader in every student because I refuse to believe that reading is character-based.

Therefore, for teachers, parents, and all people in need of a little guidance for motivating listless children and teenagers I recommend The Bookwhisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller. Miller is a 6th-grade teacher and provides a practical yet unconventional guideline for leading children to actually enjoy reading. And if you specifically look for books on literacy, you will find loads of useful suggestions and inspirations to spark the interest in reading in your home or classroom again.