Musings on International Literacy Day

We take so many things for granted as Americans — ready access to water, vast choices in fresh foods, stable shelters and structures. We’ve got gaggles of electronic gizmos and more books than we ever bother to read.

It’s a shame, really, when you consider how rare things like books and bathrooms are in so many other countries. (And even — as one of my daughters recently reminded me — for American children living in desperate poverty.)

I’ve heard many a news report in recent days on misguided plans to burn one particular book (a book with great cultural and religious significance) — but nothing, literally, about today’s designation as “International Literacy Day.”

Imagine, if you will, a world without books.

It’s a world without education, civil discourse, political stability.

Books are the very fiber of our being — taking us on journeys to places we’ve never been before, introducing us to new worlds and wonders, posing thoughtful questions about the nature of humanity — helping us feel more, think more, do more. Even be more.

Think back on some of the books that have touched your life — maybe a family heirloom handed down from generation to generation, maybe books your parents read with you as a child, maybe books you enjoy reading with your own children.

Pause today to honor those books that have touched — even changed — your life. Made you a better parent. Helped you succeed in school or business. Taught you to appreciate other people and places.

If books have slipped from the pages of your busy life, bring them back today. Visit a library. Read with your child. Volunteer to tutor students in reading. Sign up to help at an adult literacy center. Read the books of local and international authors. Maybe even write your own book.

Whether books — and the people who depend on them — survive and thrive, is really up to you.


Note: Watch for a future post on the interplay of literacy and the arts — and ways the arts can help make reading more enjoyable for the whole family

Thanks to Christopher Trimble for the graphic  a la Photoshop crafted with a collection of book covers, buttons and magnets