September 8 was International Literacy Day (www.bit.ly/U3ogeU). Not everyone celebrated. Yesterday I was speaking with a friend whose child cannot read without difficulty despite having graduated from high school. He is orally articulate. He is clever, delightful, and passionate. He just can’t read well and he writes worse. His story is rehearsed by many. What gives?
It is hard to say. Many things can go wrong: health, education, socio-political instability, gender discrimination, ADHD, etc. Yet one thing is certain: a will to change the situation can make a difference. It begins with the recognition that the ability to read and write is a right not a privilege. In our culture, illiteracy is a sentence to poverty. We all need to do all we can to ensure that every human being has access to schools, teachers, books and the freedom to learn.
My daughter Corin recently spent two and half weeks with Free the Children (www.bit.ly/S0KvAk) building a school in Kenya. This experience enabled her (and her fans) to understand anew the depth of the lesson that it is “more blessed to give than to receive” (Jesus). By giving we get, and when we give others the opportunity to read we receive the gift of reading anew. We read with new eyes. Helping others to read helps us to read. Time and time again we learn that generosity never leaves us impoverished. This truth doesn’t just apply to money, but to skills, talents, and passion as well.
Maybe this week will afford you the opportunity in some small way to help others learn to read. Maybe you can volunteer at a school, or donate to a worthy cause, or give your employees the gift of time to read in honour of this day. The day might be behind us, but future is before us and helping others to read and write is always right.
Seize the day. End the daze. Give the gift of reading.