The theme for this year’s Literacy Month is ‘Literacy Connects Us.’ If you think about it, literacy connects us in a myriad of ways. It connects us to health by helping us find, understand, and use health information. It connects us to employment, giving us more job opportunities and greater money-making ability. It connects us to civic engagement and that, in turn, promotes options for volunteering and encourages us to get out and vote. It helps us understand what to do in legal situations, in the digital world, and it connects us to other people. Imagine not having the ability to read a newspaper, to write or read a letter, to share details with your friends about the latest book you read.
In the big picture, literacy is fundamental to reducing poverty, building life skills, and achieving gender equality. Though world-wide literacy rates continue to improve, there are still over 700 million adults and young people who cannot read. In BC, that number is over 700,000. The Decoda Literacy Foundation is working to change that. Their work is ongoing, but this month in particular, they have a number of initiatives to boost awareness of literacy issues. For more information on the organization and the important work they do, go here: https://decoda.ca/about-us/decoda-literacy-foundation/
If you know someone who is struggling with literacy or you need to access a literacy program in a specific area of B.C., this site might be helpful: https://decoda.ca/program-map/
What can you do on a personal level to promote literacy? Read to your children. If you don’t have children, give books as gifts to the children (and the adults!) in your life. Start a neighborhood free library or donate books to one. Set up a book basket or book exchange at work. Volunteer with your local literacy program. https://decoda.ca/get-involved/ Support your local library as best you can. Finally, make reading a priority for yourself. Talk to others about what you’ve read. Share the love . . . and share the joy of the written word.