International Literacy Day!
There was a small trend going around Facebook last year that asked you to post your “top ten books,” the ones that stuck with you and influenced you most. While this generally supported the spirit of reading and literacy, I also had the feeling that there were people being left out and in the dust.
There are millions of people who cannot read and do not have the means to learn. There are millions who are reserved to the tongues of their languages without any means to explore beyond. There are also those who, often from lack of supportive teachers or classmates, haven’t found ways to enjoy reading.
I can’t understand why bibliophiles and readers gawk at those who claim to dislike books. Sure, it’s not easy to agree with someone who doesn’t have the same interests as you, but if anything, reading should have taught us how to extend our help toward others and live by the old adage: “Put yourself in someone else’s shoes.” Think about it: why doesn’t this person like to read? Are there sensitive, emotional memories attached? Are there too few books that align with their own interests? Have they been continually forced to read stale books and been told why they should like them? Reading is a solitary act, but being able to love reading is something that we are all responsible for in aiding and spreading.
Books are created to teach, to evoke a certain memory, to tell stories, to ruminate, to prove a point, to dream. They are escapes, comforts, vessels that withstand the test of time. You don’t need to read classics and philosophical jargon to be able to fall in love with reading. You just need a bit of real magic, from others and from yourself.
Resources for those who need help with literacy skills: ¹
- First and foremost, your local library, if you have one, is one of the best resources for improving literacy skills, and librarians are one of the most underused, undervalued means to find good books.
- A caring teacher who is willing to spend time with you and help you. This could be your English teacher or your soccer coach or just anyone who has a passion for words and stories.
- A group of friends or passionate classmates to learn with (or family members, if they are supportive enough).
If you lack the above, which many people do, fear not: these links below are some websites and external resources:
- 826 Valencia: if you live in one of the major cities in the US, you may have a branch of 826 Valencia near you. These people are lifesavers.
- Grammar Girl; Storyline Online; RIF Reading Planet; Robert Munsch’s site; Reading Rockets; Grammarist; Book Adventure
A suggestive list of books for those who are struggling to find something to enjoy: ²
- The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick
- Letters of Note, compiled by Shaun Usher
- Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence, by Nick Bantock
- Matilda, by Roald Dahl (nearly all of his works could qualify)
- The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster (this book taught me what it is to love words)
- Haroun and the Sea of Stories, by Salman Rushdie
- The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo
- Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen
- Home, by Carson Ellis
- Nature Anatomy, by Julia Rothman
¹ Of course, this is a tiny and narrow list. It is an introduction: don’t stop here.
² Again, not a definitive list by any means. Only you know what you like — and what if you can’t find the right story for you, what if you can’t find your story out there? There’s a simple reason. It’s inside and waiting to come out, even though you may not recognize it. Write.