International Literacy Day (ILD) has been around since the 60’s, but is still as important today. It reminds all of us the importance of literacy. This is a skill required for all elements of life – it empowers individuals to improve their lives by expanding their horizon and capabilities, allowing them to choose a kind of life they can value. Despite progress, literacy challenges still persist with at least 773 million young people and adults internationally lacking basic literacy skills today.
The 3R’s (Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic) is prominent within early education. COVID has a lot to answer for though, causing big disruptions to learning. It’s no surprise that those struggling beforehand are having even more difficulties now. With less formal teaching in place, pressure was put on both adults and children to take part in home schooling. The disparity in levels of access to technology and infrastructure has been an issue as well. With adults working from home, or multiple children at home, it was a struggle to share computers etc between everyone. Remember, there weren’t any libraries etc open for the public to use their facilities. This ties in nicely with this year’s ILD theme of “Literacy for a human-centred recovery: Narrowing the digital divide”.
Stories such as fairy tales have been around for years and years – Beauty And The Beast and Rumpelstiltskin are said to have be over 4,000 years old! They don’t age and are loved by people of all ages. What’s not to love when there are heroes, villains and magic involved?
During our childhood years they teach morals and values in a fun way. While stirring the imagination of little ones, they explained the mysteries of the world: birth, death, the seasons, day and night, and capture the hopes and dreams of humanity. They also tell us of overcoming adversity, rising from rags to riches, and the benefits of courage.
Characters come across difficult problems which are often solved by enchantment or magic. This could be the waving of a wand, granting three wishes, wearing a magic ring, repeating a charm or spell. The ending is always a happy one, with good overcoming evil. That doesn’t mean there isn’t peril or hardship along the way though.
We have seen lots of our favourites adapted on the big screen dramas thanks to the likes of Disney, Warner Bros. etc. That doesn’t stop us enjoying the act of reading though. As a parent, it’s a great way to wind down and to snuggle up in bed to. It’s also great to re-living my childhood by reading my favourite stories to Littleman.
I also quite envy children. Do you ever wish you could experience something for the first time again? This includes stories. They get to hear things unravel, be introduced to characters, and not see any plot twists coming.
The gift of reading is a wonderful thing to be able to give. Bookmark Reading (https://www.bookmarkreading.org) focus on giving the children an extra opportunity to discover the world of reading. In the busy world we live in, this is something that they might struggle to get from teachers or parents. By having these extra 1-2-1 sessions, the children get the chance to improve their reading skills, enjoy books, have contact with other people and become more confident, improving their emotional well-being and their self-esteem.
‘These children often struggle in school, and beyond. Reading isn’t just about books. It’s about reading a road sign, a safety manual, a birthday card. It’s understanding a job application, the latest Covid-19 guidance or an important letter from your bank. We give children the reading skills and confidence they need for a fair chance in life, through our flexible volunteer-led programme.’
Reading isn’t just for kids though – adults still enjoy stories of romance, danger, magic, fairies and witches etc. They offer an escape from reality, which we all need sometimes.