World Read-Aloud Day: something to think about.
February 17, 2011

This year, World Read-Aloud Day falls on March 9.  I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a World Read-Aloud Day, but I think we can safely say that this?  This is right up my alley.

I’ve been trying to come up with a few fun ways for Charlotte and I to celebrate in a few weeks, but in the meantime I’ve been spending a lot of time contemplating a question that LitWorld, a non-profit that advocates for global literacy, asked on their blog recently.

They asked this: what would you miss most if you could not read or write?

She’ll read and write when she’s ready.  Right now, we love flipping the pages of a picture-book together.

I’ve been giving it a good deal of thought lately and I think that I would miss knowledge.

The truth is that none of us NEED literacy, right?  Technically literacy is just a happy byproduct of a civilization that managed at some point to adopt a functional alphabet system.  And if the world was entirely without alphabets, if the world had no written words at all, we would still have knowledge.  It might not be the same knowledge we have today, but it is very important to me to remember that people who cannot read still have just as great an understanding of their world as I do.  It’s just a different understanding.

But I don’t live in that world.  I live in a world that requires some foundation of literacy in order to make healthy lifestyle choices, excel in the professional world, and connect with other individuals within my community.  In a given day, I read ingredient labels, price tags, billboard advertisements, street signs, children’s books, blogs, text messages, song lyrics, calendars, driving directions, safety manuals, bills, magazines, bank statements, online forums, newspaper articles, and a book at the end of the day.  Reading is important to me because it is practical, because it allows my imagination to run wild, because understanding my surroundings empowers me, because it is an activity that I can enjoy with my husband and my child, and because it exposes me to new ideas and knowledge.

I would miss all of those things, but those ideas?  That knowledge?  That is what I would miss most.

What would you miss if you could not read or write?

World Read-Aloud Day on Facebook | World Read-Aloud Day at LitWorld

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  1. By erin on February 17, 2011

    I would miss the ability get that knowledge easily, by myself, in the time frame that I desire.  As you mentioned, the knowledge/information would still be there, but if someone were busy or unavailable I’d have to wait until it were convenient for them to pass it on to me.  Because I can read and write, I can get the information I desire in the time frame that I desire.

    I would also miss the ability to pass on Hannah’s (and therefore my and Brian’s) personal history to her.  I go back and read sometimes the journalling I’ve done to her when she was teeny, and I’m already forgetting things.  Just imagine if I didn’t have the ability to write it down… it would be like those things never existed.

  2. By on February 17, 2011

    My father in law is illiterate and watching him struggle to do things I take for granted like… reading the phone book… picking the date off of an invitation… or making sense of legal documents makes me aware all too often what it must be like to live in a world where you can only access a small fraction of the knowledge available to you.

    When I think about this question, my immediate response wants to be something like Jane Austen novels… travel brochures or the silly phrases that my husband puts together on the fridge with our magnet words… but really it has to be the ability to function simply. The ability to read street signs to find my way home or to program numbers in my cell phone without someone else’s help.





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