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Happy Literacy Day!

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“Literacy is a foundation to build a more sustainable future for all” – UNESCO Director-General.

From an early age, reading was my lifeblood. Whether reading about making bread in The Little Red Hen, or enjoying the Famous Five’s next adventure, reading took me out of the real world and into one where anything was possible. This love of reading has endured and led me to where I am now, a life of publishing — of being surrounded by books, words, stories. From my book-enveloped-perspective, it is both surreal and heartbreaking that in 2017 there are still serious issues and failings with literacy on a national and global scale.

In a world where information is everything, it seems unfathomable that 775 million adults lack minimum literacy skills — that one in five adults is still not literate, and that of this, two in five are women. This situation will not improve, either, without ensuring that the 60.7 million children not in school, and those who attend irregularly or drop out, have the support that they crucially need.

Why is literacy important? Even ignoring the basic fact that everything we do in life, from driving to shopping, relies on being able to read, UNESCO’s 2006 ‘Global Monitoring Report on Education’ shows that literacy rates correlate with both rates of poverty and prejudice against women. A literate world means a wealthier world. A literate world means a more open and accepting world. A literate world means a more equal world.

In the United Kingdom, it can be easy to take literacy for granted, yet we live in a country where, in the poorest communities, up to 40% of people have literacy problems. Boys trail girls in literacy when they start school, and in 2015, it was found that over 120,000 five-year-old boys could not write simple sentences.

With these stats, publishing is more vital than ever. We need publishers to create books with interesting and varied topics and stories — to create a lifelong affair with reading, and through that, literacy. Here at deCoubertin Books, we are trying to play our part, by donating some of our titles to Book Aid International, an organisation working to tackle these important issues by ensuring everyone has the right to read and this is something I am extremely proud to have helped organise. 

Whatever your plans are this 8 September, add literacy to the day.

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