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Latest Issue

International Literacy Day

Before I get started, I just want to thank Jimmy for giving me his space this week. Literacy is an issue that is important to both of us and that, coupled with Hunter’s Thursday night football game at UConn (#GoHuskies), we decided that I get to kick off (pun intended) this week’s issue. According to

Before I get started, I just want to thank Jimmy for giving me his space this week. Literacy is an issue that is important to both of us and that, coupled with Hunter’s Thursday night football game at UConn (#GoHuskies), we decided that I get to kick off (pun intended) this week’s issue.

According to the International Literacy Foundation, “International Literacy Day (ILD), celebrated annually on September 8, shines a spotlight on global literacy needs, which goes hand in hand with ILA’s mission: literacy for everyone, everywhere. On ILD (and every day), ILA advocates for a literate world by empowering educators, inspiring students, and encouraging leaders with the resources they need to make literacy accessible for all.”

The idea of an International Literacy Day was founded at the World Conference of Ministers of Education on the Eradication of Illiteracy, held in Teheran, Iran, September 8-19, 1965.
The Final Report of that Conference concluded:

“The development of the modern world, the accession to independence of a large number of countries, the need for the real emancipation of people and for the increasingly active and productive participation, in the economic, social and political life of human society, of the hundreds of millions of illiterate adults still existing in the world, make it essential to change national education policies. Education systems must provide for the educational training needs of both the young generations who have not yet begun working life, and the generations that have already become adult without having had the benefit of the essential minimum of elementary education.

National educational plans should include schooling for children and literacy training for adults as parallel elements.”

According to World Atlas, the US has a literacy rate of 86%. Seems OK right? But considering that ranks us around 125th in the world, that number seems less OK. Most other first-world nations are ranking at over 90%, with countries like Finland and the United Kingdom at just shy of 100%.

Basic literacy is vital to be being able to function in society. Economic security, access to health care, and the ability to actively participate in civic life all depend on an individual’s ability to read.

While I could carry on and on with statistics about literacy and the connection to crime and other ills in the country, let’s focus on what we (you, me, your family and friends) can do to help with the issue.

One thing we can all do is support our local libraries. Libraries are on the forefront of helping with literacy. Not only because they are free, but they have staff and members in place to connect people with resources needed to learn and keep reading.

On the home front, the first step to increasing literacy is getting kids to read and keep them reading. Making sure they are at appropriate reading levels for their age, and getting them help with any issues before they become overwhelming.

So what can you do to help kids read better? Here are some tips to help!

Tips for Reading With Children

• Lay books flat on tables so their covers are visible and attract the children’s attention.
• Give your children something to look forward to by reading to them every day and at the same time if possible.
• Have your children read out loud to you.
• Listen carefully and make sure to praise your children’s reading.
• Even after your children can read on their own, keep reading to them so they can enjoy stories and books that interest them, but are too hard for them to read by themselves.
• Visit the public library often. Most libraries sponsor summer reading clubs with easy goals for preschool, primary and elementary students.
• Ask questions (who were the main characters, what happened, what part of the book did they like best), but don’t drill them too much on novel content. Reading should foster reading for pleasure.
• Provide incentives and set an example by reading yourself.

Also, find books they are actually interested in. Kids are more apt to read if they help choose the books! Let them loose in the library, see what they pick, and help them to find books on subjects they are interested in that are appropriate for their age. And don’t let them be intimidated by book that may be a little above their reading level. Remember, no one gets stronger if they keep lifting 10lb. weights.

Most kids should be reading for at least 20 minutes every day. I know; homework, sports, dinner, baths, laundry, cleaning, pets, errands, and other extracurriculars can make that difficult to achieve, but even 10 minutes before bed each night will make a huge impact on a child’s future ability to read, learn and retain.

Heck, even a quick chapter before lights out, or first thing in the morning over breakfast can go a long way.

We live in a world where access to pretty much the entirety of the world’s knowledge is in a person’s pocket. We should be well past a world where not being able to read holds anyone back from anything.

Literacy begins at home. So read with your kids, grandkids, friends’ kids, etc. and do it often! No one ever suffered from anything more than eyestrain from being too well read, or reading too much.

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