Imagine what it would be like if you couldn’t read. Can you even grasp it? Just stop and think for a minute about all the areas of your life where you use reading skills. You couldn’t fill out an application, understand the instructions on your medicine bottle or help your kids with their homework. Such is the situation for more than 32 million adults in the US. Globally the number swells to 774 million, of which 66% are women.
As we enter National Family Literacy month it’s time we take action! Certainly education systems around the world need major overhaul. Education should be a civil right for all and yet there are still corners of the world where young girls are denied the right to learn. Here in the US, we continue to struggle to provide an equal education for all our children, to ensure they are ready to learn when they enter kindergarten and that they receive the necessary support to complete their secondary education. Yes, we have big hills to climb and it will take all of us working together to get there.
However, there are some practical things we can do right now to make a difference:
- Read with your children. Studies and test scores show that kids who read at home have a higher success rate at school.
- Support your local library. Remember how fun it used to be to go to the library? Well, it still can be! Make it a weekly date for the entire family.
- Buy books as gifts. As the holidays approach, now is a great time to think about sowing seeds of learning. There’s a right book for everyone!
- Volunteer as a tutor. Most learning centers have long waiting lists. You can help serve more, sooner, by donating an hour or two of your time each week.
- Donate old books. Great stories are better shared! Contact a local shelter or community center to see if they accept books for those they serve.
- Give to support family literacy. When parents and children learn together, the whole family benefits and our communities become stronger.
Finally, if you know someone who struggles to read reach out with an offer to help. Trust me, I know this is a sensitive issue. Several years ago, I had this very conversation with someone I loved. At the time, they made it very clear that they were not ready and so I let it be. Remember, it’s not our job to “fix” anyone, merely to support and encourage without shame or blame. Months later, they approached me for help and I was ready with resources. It’s amazing how unconditional love can be such a profound force for good.
Let’s support learning as a lifelong journey! No one can do it all, but we all can do something. Please share this post with your friends and family so that together we can reform the way the world learns!
No matter how old or young, it’s always the right time to read.
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