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In an age of enlightenment, technology and modern living, it’s amazing that it has been estimated that nearly 800 million adults worldwide lack even the most basic literacy skills.

International Literacy Day aims to highlight the importance and value of literary education for individuals and groups, as well as providing benefits for the wider global culture.

History of International Literacy Day 

In 1966, the United Nations proclaimed this day as International Literacy Day with the intent of reminding people all over the world that the ability to read and write should not be taken for granted. The idea was to highlight the fact that literacy is so vital to individuals and communities, as well as for society as a whole. 

Even though this particular effort toward literacy began more than 50 years ago, it is still a relevant issue today. In fact, literacy is a key component of the UN’s Sustainable Development Agenda leading up to the year 2030, understanding that for countries to be developed in a sustainable manner, they must assure that their citizens are able to function on a literate level. This is for their own benefit as well as for the world around them. 

How to Celebrate International Literacy Day

Enjoying this day can happen in a variety of ways, all of which promote the idea of making sure every person on the planet has the opportunity to learn how to read! Try these creative ideas for celebrating International Literacy Day or come up with some other ideas: 

Read a Book 

An easy way to get started with celebrating International Literacy Day is by picking up a book and starting to read! This might mean rereading a favorite novel, starting on a new sci-fi series, diving into a non-fiction book to improve life skills, or taking a stroll down memory lane and picking up some children’s books again. No matter which book is chosen get started by 

Create and Share International Literacy Day Bookmarks

As a reminder to friends and family about literacy day, consider making (or buying) a collection of bookmarks that can be given away as gifts to neighbors, coworkers, or other people in life. Bookmarks are an easy, small and inexpensive gift that can be crocheted or knitted, braided, cross-stitched, made from paper and scrapbooking materials, fashioned from colorful ribbons and beads, or various other ideas. Tell the recipients that the gift is in honor of International Literacy Day and encourage them to also pick up a book that they can use the bookmark in. 

Head to the Local Library 

Not only is the local library filled with books to be enjoyed, it’s also often a hub of community events and activities that revolve around literacy. This would be a great place to find out about volunteer opportunities related to literacy. They might even be hosting various events in celebration of International Literacy Day. Check it out! 

While at the local library, find out if there are ways to get involved in helping to build up the number of books that are available in the community library, school library, special needs literacy center or others place. The more books available to the community, the more people can build their reading skills, which is beneficial to everyone. 

Teach Someone to Read 

What could be more delightful than helping a person open up to the world by teaching them to read?! Whether it’s helping a family member who is just at the age of beginning to read, offering to assist a neighbor or community member who needs some tutoring, or working as a volunteer for a literacy program, teaching another person how to read (or how to read better) is a huge privilege that can be seen as an investment in the good of the world! 

Get Involved on a Global Level 

In addition to helping someone read locally, it’s also possible to get connected with global literacy initiatives through the UN Literacy Initiatives as well as through the World Literacy Foundation

The World Literacy Foundation provides a variety of stories on their website about literacy activities that are happening in a variety of countries such as Cameroon, Nigeria, Somalia, Pakistan and many other places. Just learning about the barriers to literacy in different countries around the world can be useful in starting conversations that can lead to action. This could possibly inspire some folks to become teachers, others to travel to the places of need to work as educators, or still others to use technology as an effective tool to promote education particularly along the lines of literacy. 

Start a Book Club

Grab a group of friends and celebrate the appreciation of the ability to read by reading a book together and discussing it. Even if there’s a book you’ve read before, it can be so much better and more interesting when discussed in a group. 

Try one of these classic, must-read books that have been recommended for book clubs, or come up with some others on your own: 

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This 1960 classic brings to life all kinds of issues related to race and inequality, handling it with compassion and soul. Guaranteed to promote deep and heartfelt conversations in a book group. 
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Written in 1847 under a male pseudonym
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis. This 1950 beloved fantasy written by a renowned professor at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities is a delight for readers young and old. 
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Revealing themes of freedom from slavery, corruption and abuse, this novel tells the story of a duo of travellers who are looking for more from life. 

Listen to a Book on Tape 

For those who are super busy, and feel like they don’t have time to read, literature can still be enjoyed while letting someone else do the reading! So many books are now available for listening that people who want to multi-task can still “read”. Whether while driving, cooking, working out or engaging in other activities, “reading” while listening is an excellent way to absorb information or enjoy a novel without having to be looking at a book. 

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