My grandmother was a teenager when she came to America. Fleeing the hardship of shtetl life in Russia, she landed on Ellis Island with just the clothes on her back and a small valise. She had little money and no formal education; in fact, she did not know how to read or write.
She and my grandfather settled in Pennsylvania and raised four active sons without the help of modern conveniences. No dishwasher, no washer and dryer, no microwave for a quick and easy meal.
My grandmother worked hard to keep her family well tended, with food on the table and clean clothes to wear. She spent her days cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing.
She never got around to learning to read or write. But she was so proud of her sons who excelled in school, all of them becoming college graduates.
Literacy is a human right.
These days we tend to take our education for granted, so it is alarming to discover that there are 757 million adults in the world, age 15 and older, who can’t read or write a simple sentence. Even more shocking, 14% of the U.S. population is illiterate — and 19% of them are high school graduates.
Literacy is not only a basic human right; it is a human need, as basic as water and a daily dose of sunshine.
The good news? The goal to eradicate illiteracy is achievable.
Today, the day that many of our children return to school to start or continue their education, is International Literacy Day. This week Grammarly is working to raise awareness about the importance of literacy.
There are global problems that seem too massive to fix, causing us to throw up our hands in dismay or just give up. What can I do, we ask ourselves.
Illiteracy is not unfixable.
There is something we can do. For starters, and I’m sure you all do this, make reading in your home a part of the daily routine. Develop a love of reading in your kids as early as infancy by reading to them every day. As your children grow, encourage them to read and write for pleasure.
There’s more. You can donate books or money to local libraries and schools. You may even want to volunteer a few hours a week as a literacy coach. Check with your library for information.
The infographic below is being circulated on social media today to raise awareness of the issue of literacy.
Do you have ideas for breaking the illiteracy barrier?