If you are a book lover, it is hard to imagine what illiteracy might feel like. The world has come a long way throughout its history with literacy rates improving immensely over the years. According to UNESCO, the worldwide average literacy rate is 86% for adults and 91% for children.
However, the work of highlighting and promoting literacy is far from over. In, fact, it may be more dire than ever with the rise of social media and untruths spreading through the internet like wildfire. There remain large pockets of adults and children, even within our own communities, that struggle to read and comprehend everyday information and directions. August 9th is National Book Lovers Day. I can’t think of a more perfect opportunity for book lovers to do what they can to help improve literacy where they live. But how can one do that?
- Even though most schools won’t be in session yet, you can volunteer to read books to children in daycares and preschools that operate year round. Or contact a school to get a background check so that you can read to kids as a volunteer once a month.
- Pull books off your shelves and donate them to a little library. Make a point to take them to an underserved area of your city or town.
- Create a book basket at your workplace where colleagues can share books they have on their shelves.
- Purchase books from authors you love, either from them directly or via your local independent bookstore. Supporting authors ensures that there are all kinds of stories for adults and children to read and fall in love with.
- Spend time reading to a child in your life on August 9th and talk with them about the privilege of having books and knowing how to read them.
- Create a book club. If you’re already in a book club, consider planning a book drive among members and donate those books to a school or community organization that works to encourage a love of reading among children.
- Donate money to a literacy organization in your community if you are unable to donate your time. The Louisville Book Festival is one such organization that believes reading is a fundamental human right. You can read more about their work and their mission here.
- Go to your local library, check out books and tell others about the joy you had while you were visiting. Libraries need you to love on them to survive.
- Attend local literary events. Just this year I attended an event at a bar and an event at a community center. When you show up, it makes it more likely that the event organizers will host another.
- Lastly, show your own book collection a little love. Make sure others in your life know what you are reading and how it affected you. Don’t keep a good read to yourself. Books need love too!