Make a Way Media believes in the power of empathy and kindness. We believe in the power of dreams and possibilities. But we also believe that reading is a fundamental right. It is why founder Deedee Cummings launched The Louisville Book Festival. We love to read, and we love that reading can help us understand ourselves and others.
We often think that illiteracy is a problem in other places, like in countries where girls are not allowed to seek an education, but there are people right where you live who cannot read or cannot read well. Research suggests somewhere between 18% and 25% of adults in the United States are considered illiterate. Some of them may have learning difficulties, while others simply fell through the cracks of the educational system. There are many families who don’t, for a variety of reasons, promote reading.
If you love reading, then you also understand that people who cannot read do not get to experience the joy, the escape, and the enlightenment that can come from reading books. Illiteracy also has serious financial implications for our communities according to a report from the World Literacy Foundation. It impacts people’s ability to get and keep a job. It impacts people’s ability to generate wealth or protect their wealth; a lack of understanding of documents and paperwork may get people into financial problems. On a daily level, it impacts the ability to do things we take for granted, like read a prescription bottle or navigate directions.
September 8 is UNESCO’s International Literacy Day, and we hope you find a way in your life to celebrate it and to promote the work of literacy. What might that look like?
- Read in public that day.
- Read to or with a loved one.
- Talk with others, especially children about the impact of reading on their lives and what illiteracy means to our community.
- Visit your local library and let staff know how much you appreciate them. Better yet, contact your local government that funds your libraries and let them know why library funding is critical.
- Donate to a nonprofit organization that supports literacy (maybe even consider a donation to Make a Way Media for the It Pays to Read program or the Louisville Book Festival) because the impact of illiteracy affects us all.