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.