My sons were big readers growing up, and their teachers often commented that they could tell. Something about the vocabulary and the spelling, even though the boys didn’t actively try to learn new words. When parents read to and with their children, it just happens. (The boys also became adept at finding the mouse in Goodnight Moon, the gold bug in Richard Scarry’s books and Waldo in Where’s Waldo books, but I suppose that’s literacy of a different sort!)

As teachers know, reading is more than just enjoying a good story or a hunt for a mouse. When you can read, you can learn new things, fill out a job application, follow instructions. Literacy means people have the basic reading and writing skills to manage daily living and employment. So it’s both scary and appalling that 757 million cannot read or write a simple sentence.

International Literacy Day (September 8) is a day to promote awareness of the importance of literacy. The infographic below shares some statistics, both hopeful and shocking, about literacy:

Literacy Day

Go. Read a book to someone. Share your books. Give books away (friends in Oakville, the Oakville Literacy Council has a yearly sale of gently used books). Contribute in some way to someone’s literacy.