International Literacy Day is a United Nations holiday observed every year on September 8. The day was created to highlight the importance of literacy, as well as to raise awareness of the literacy problems that impact around 770 million adults and children around the world. International Literacy Day also encourages governments to take action to improve their country's literacy rates.
International Literacy Day was created by UNESCO, or the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in 1966 and first commemorated in 1967. The goal of the day is to remind people that literacy is a valuable skill and that good literacy greatly improves an individual's quality of life.
International Literacy Day began because a global need was identified to improve education and diminish illiteracy rates around the world. Currently, one in five adults is illiterate, with two-thirds of those being women. At the same time, around 61 million children don't attend school, and 250 million children lack basic literacy skills.
Literacy and reading are essential skills that help us learn and achieve an understanding of the world around us, they also help create clearer communication and stronger communities.
How International Literacy Day is celebrated
There are many ways to take part in International Literacy Day, including simple ways such as reading a new book or challenging yourself to write a poem or short story.
UNESCO also hosts official events to celebrate the day including online/in-person conferences and discussions.
The UNESCO International Literacy Prizes
Among the events that UNESCO runs on Literacy Day one of the most popular is the UNESCO International Literacy Prizes for which there is an award ceremony in Paris to announce the winner. The two prizes are called the 'King Sejong Literacy Prize' and the 'Confucius Prize for Literacy'. Applications for these awards usually come from charities and organizations around the world that promote literacy among the disenfranchised and marginalized communities.
Like many United Nations Days, International Literacy Day has a different theme every year. which have ranged from "Literacy and Health", to "Literacy and Empowerment" to the most recent theme in 2021 of "Literacy for a human-centered recovery: Narrowing the digital divide".
Improving literacy in your town
If you want to help improve literacy in your community you can start volunteering at a school, library, or youth organization. This way, you can teach children and young people how to read and help them improve their skills. You can also read to younger children to awaken a love of books in them, and get them more interested in literature and reading.
You can also donate your old books to schools, libraries, and organizations, or you can donate some money to the organizations that are working on eradicating illiteracy around the world.