Wicked Wednesday – International Literacy Day

Today is International Literacy Day. According to UNESCO, there are “at least 773 million young people and adults lacking basic literacy skills today.” So Wickeds, have you ever had the opportunity to work/volunteer to help individuals learn to read and/or write? Have any of your characters?

Edith/Maddie: No, but I think one of my characters should get involved in literacy. I did teach Japanese businessmen conversational English for two years in Tokyo and surrounding cities, but that’s different. My ex-husband has spent years developing maternal-language reading materials for illiterate adults all over West Africa, so they can learn to read and write in their own language, not that of the former colonial power (French). It’s very good and needed work.

Jessie: Great topic, Liz! I have had the opportunity to teach each of my kids to read and also to support two family members in learning to read in English as a second language. I also volunteered for many years in my kids’ eklementary school and spent much of that time sitting with beginning readers and help to coach them through the process of becoming more capable and confident.

Sherry: I haven’t done anything formal, but love giving books as presents starting with baby showers and continuing on. I just gave the other man in my life (my six-year-old neighbor) a stack of my daughter’s old books over the weekend. Chloe Jackson from the Sea Glass Saloon mysteries is a former children’s librarian so she is all about literacy. Also the Wickeds have routinely put together baskets to be auctioned at Malice Domestic which raises money for local literacy programs.

Barb: I am semi-embarrassed to admit that when I was a sophomore in high school, filled with the spirit of the Great Society, I volunteered to tutor at our local Y. I don’t know what I thought I was doing. I’m pretty sure it was my idea, not something suggested by my parents or a teacher. I had no experience and no training. The boy assigned to me was only a few years younger. His father had died relatively recently and his grades had tumbled. His semi-desperate mother probably hoped for a male tutor, though she had also signed him up for Big Brothers. Anyway, for a school year, once a week, I walked the mile and a half from school to the Y to work with him. I remember sitting in the little room assigned to us but have no recollection of what we did there. He was a good kid, and we laughed a lot. Eight years later I was at my wedding when I heard someone call my name. It was my former tutee, working on the waitstaff. He seemed happy and healthy and was in community college. I’m certain I had nothing to do with this, but it was sure nice to know he was doing well and remembered our time together fondly.

Liz: I love that, Barb! I’ve never tutored but I am a big book pusher – I am famous for telling people about books I’ve loved and, if they’re in close proximity to me, pushing said books onto them!

Julie: Such important work! I’m very happy to celebrate those that work in literacy in so many ways.

Readers, what about you? To whom have you spread the gift of literacy? Leave a comment below.

17 Thoughts

  1. I have 3 granddaughters that I love to buy books for and now I have 2 great nieces and I look forward to reading to them and of course buying them books. One is named after my mom and she was a very avid reader. My son also enjoys reading too and his wife. I love it, a family of readers!!!

  2. I haven’t ever helped anyone to learn to read.

    But I do share books with people I know and I give books as gifts.

    On Halloween, I give out comic books alongside the candy. And while some may not consider comics the most literate of works (WRONG), I figure if you can develop a love of reading from comics, it becomes a logical extension to go on to other works along the way.

  3. I love this post! As a volunteer, I have recorded two audiobooks (so far) for Learning Ally, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping struggling readers overcome hurdles to literacy. It’s a wonderful program and I plan to record at least one book per year for them. Also, I’m that mom who always volunteers to work in the school library so she can read to the kids!

  4. I taught my kids to read, of course. I give books to all the kids in my family – one nephew and another on the way in November. I have a good friend from college who worked at a literacy program for many years. She found it very fulfilling work.

  5. My husband and I give away books at Halloween along with candy. The neighborhood children call me The Book Lady which I so appreciate. In my career as a children’s librarian I was able to help teachers instill a desire to read in students. It was a life purpose that blessed me more than anything else I did for others. There is a light that comes into the eyes of a non-reader when that person discovers the joy of solo reading. Finding a book about a subject that would interest a non-reader was a passion…”what would this student like to read?” I would ask myself. And, often getting that information was the key to the lock. To everyone here (and every teacher I ever met) who has encouraged reading, I add my own thanks.

  6. What a wonderful group we have here, I admire everyone’s efforts to encourage reading! I buy books for gifts, plus like to get my grands personalized books for Christmas!

  7. If you want to learn how irregular and weird the English language try answering questions in an ELS class. Your favorite phrase is “the rule is…except for…”. My sons used to choose pants by the size of the pockets. His paperback book needed to fit. I’m an avid supporter of the local library and the annual Planned Parenthood book sale.

  8. I’m a book pusher as well. My niece loves to read. My nephew, not quite so much, but he can read quite well. He just has other things he enjoys doing.

  9. Wonderful work you have all done. I certainly spread the love of reading to my daughter. I started out reading to her every night in bed. She was reading 4th grade books when she was 5. She still (at 51) is as a voracious reader as I am (at 71).

  10. Literacy is so important. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

    I’ve only taught my kids to read and volunteered in the elementary school setting in reading groups and at the school library.

  11. My husband was not a reader until we married. He saw me reading a lot. We were able to find some books that he was interested in reading. He reads a good deal of the time or works on puzzles.

  12. My immigrant parents struggled with English. They couldn’t help my brother and me much when we started school, at least not in the reading-writing realms. However, they encouraged us and, by reviewing our work, learned from and with us. Thus I’m forever thankful to my teachers and the librarians at my elementary school and our local public library. They taught and encouraged two generations of my family without realizing it. Working in schools and having kids of my own has only reinforced and strengthened my admiration for educators, librarians, and anyone who shares their love of reading and writing.

  13. Hurrah for those who help foster literacy! I did some tutoring in college, encouraged by the education professors, and I taught mostly average and many remedial jr. high and high school students, delighting when a reluctant student began to find joy in books. My great-nephew didn’t see the point of reading, called me a “book worm” when he saw the big Harry Potter book I got from the library . . . and then he got hooked. Real magic in that series. <3

  14. I’ve been a volunteer reading tutor, library reader (first you hook them on a story), and school assistant before being a substitute teacher and paid reading tutor, all long before Covid.

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