Need to Read: Literacy Crisis

My kids love to read.  We have tried to establish healthy reading habits in our home at an early age so as to foster and maintain a love for reading that lasts.  My husband and I both read in free time ourselves, I read to the kids before nap time during the day, and then we switch off reading to them before bed every night.  We have stacks of books in every room of the house for easy access, bookshelves and bookcases stocked full, and we also keep a stash in the truck for light reading on the road.  Besides reading with us, our kids will grab books periodically throughout the day and just sit by themselves quietly flipping through each page studying the illustrations.  It’s a tremendous gift ~ this love for reading ~ and these books are truly treasures to them.

Many of us take the gift of literacy and our book treasures for granted.

“Literacy is very important – many would say a human right.  A good quality basic education equips pupils with literacy skills for life and further learning; literate parents are more likely to keep their children healthy and send their children to school; literate people are better able to access other education and employment opportunities; and, collectively, literate societies are better geared to meet development challenges.” (1)

The U.S. literacy rate is 99% (2), while it is 59% in sub-Saharan Africa (3).  Of the 11 countries with the lowest recorded adult literacy rates, ten are in Africa (4).

I became more aware of the literacy crisis over the past few months when I organized an African Book Drive to support a community school in Swaziland, Africa.  I learned that most sub-Saharan African children only had access to a handful of books (if that) in their home and that most of the communities in Africa do not have a community library nor do they even have a library within their schools. Many of the teachers have to teach from memory vs. teaching from books because they simply do not have the resources.

I partnered with the organization African Library Project and my friends, family, and work community were all able to collect over 1,000 new and gently used children’s books along with donations to cover shipping costs and we were able to share the gift of literacy with children half-way around the world.  It was an amazing opportunity to give back and make a global impact.  My kids were able to go through their own books and donate almost 100 to the cause and then they shared the news with friends & family.  Their joy for giving was contagious and it warmed my heart.

In an effort to continue giving back globally, I have partnered with Usborne Books & More to support another community in Africa.  I have worked with Usborne Books & More for three years now and my kids absolutely adore their books.  I fell in love with the first box of books that arrived on our doorstep and have filled our shelves with these fantastic gems!  They are interactive, educational, and excellent quality.  I have also been amazed at the variety that is offered to kids from birth all the way through high school – fiction, non-fiction, activity kits, learning resources, arts & crafts, chapter books, books with sound, touchy-feely books, books that include a wind-up toy that races around a track on each book page (!) – these books never cease to amaze me!

Usborne Books & More also offers a fantastic Grant Program that partners with organizations to multiply donations for books in an effort to make books affordable for every home and community.  Their Literacy for a Lifetime Grant offers a 50% match for any donated book funds.  With this incredible grant program, I am able to select brand new books to be sent over with the next shipment of books to Africa.  If you are interested in supporting this cause and helping an African community today, you can shop through this link at anytime (African Library Book Drive) and 50% of your order proceeds will be donated to building a library in Africa.

I am also offering a special Book Box Rewards Program for those book lovers who are passionate about building their readers’ personal libraries in order to support their own educational growth and development. Receive 3-4 books in the mail for your readers each month and a coupon for a free book for them to redeem in their birthday month, and a portion of the proceeds will also be donated to our African Library cause – for more information, check this out: Book Box Rewards Program

You are able to make a difference in the lives of your own readers AND readers around the world. Help fight the literacy crisis with me!

“The King will reply, ‘ Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40-45, NIV)

References:

(1) Carr-Hill, R., K. Frostell, and J. Pessoa. International literacy statistics: a review of concepts, methodology and current data. UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2008.

(2) CIA World Factbook

(3) UNESCO Institute for Statistics. “Adult and Youth Literacy” UIS Fact Sheet. September 2014.

(4) UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Adult and Youth Literacy: National, Regional, and Global Trends, 1985-2015. June 2013.