World Literacy/International Literacy Day Observance, 2015

image of a greeting card with quote from & image of Gwendolyn Brooks, produced by The Chicago Literary Hall of Fame.
image of a greeting card with quote from & image of Gwendolyn Brooks, produced by The Chicago Literary Hall of Fame.

Here is just a partial list of daily interfacing with words:
*instructions for taking prescription drugs;
*ingredients in the foods we eat, and recipes for food preparation
*GPS directions, street signs;
*directories and signage—both indoors and outdoors—that helps us get to where we want to go;
*instructions for usage of technology
*instructions for assembling furniture and do-it-yourself projects
*notifications of “DO NOT ENTER,” “CAUTION,” “HAZARDOUS MATERIALS,” etc.
*business contracts and legal documents;

Not to mention:
*reading books, news reports, and blogs;
*reading the Holy Bible, the [Noble] Qu’ran, the Bhagavad Gita, Buddhist teachings and the many spiritual and religious texts of the world
*reading horoscopes, comics, and words of comfort

As well as the ever-more ubiquitous:
*social media activities

To mark World Literacy/International Literacy Day, 2015, I invite you to suck on this list as though it is a slowly-dissolving lozenge or piece of hard candy, while imagining living in the world as an illiterate or low-literate individual.

Today, and even in the days to come, you may want to make a conscious effort to be more aware of how much reading [and writing] words is a part of your lifestyle. Observe your own literacy and think about those who lack the skills we take for granted. Please share comments!

If you would like to read more about current literacy initiatives, issues, and statistics, here are a few links to get you started:

For a brief synopsis and ideas for ways to observe International Literacy Day

Blogger Nadine Tomlinson breaks it down in her piece, “International Literacy Day 2015: About That 16%”

Check out this editorial:
“Reducing Illiteracy On International Literacy Day and Beyond”

Margaret Bernstein’s “East Cleveland Women’s Group among first to post International Literacy Day photos”

“How Finnish Children Are Learning Coding in School and Winning Literacy Goals”

In an earlier post, I pointed to some aspects of girls literacy around the world.


  1. Oooh, I wish I could frame that photo and quote by Gwendolyn Brooks. How perfect it is for literacy observance. I have to add it to my Pinterest board. 🙂

    I love how you’ve identified the nitty-gritty ways in which literacy is indispensable. *two thumbs up*

    Thanks for including me in your line-up. I’ll bookmark the other articles.

  2. Leslie, I had this conversation on Saturday as I was walking to the National Book Festival with a friend. I was looking for parking and after getting out, I read the street signs at both ends of the block to be sure that I was not in violation. If’ you’ve ever been to DC, you know that parking is a major issue and some even think it’s a scam. I have an advanced degree, and even after reading signs at both ends of the block, I asked my friend – we’re good right? As we walked, I mentioned that you should have to “interpret” parking signs. Someone with low literacy can’t even park in DC. She said she agreed. It should be as simple as – Yes, pay. No, don’t pay.

    1. Yes, Shannon – and what you’re talking about has layers to it: as someone with advanced degrees you’re still scratching your head “maybe this means this/ or does it mean that?” Yet, you might at least feel empowered to contest a particular meaning if you had to…something a less literate individual would be less inclined to do.

  3. Jewels! (for “Jules”)
    Thank you for adding another layer to my meditation on world literacy, today. Absolutely literacy allows us access to each others’ stories and crises in significant, moving ways.

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