Florence, Lagam, Kenya

Where #LiteracyThrives

24th August 2017 | News

International Literacy Day, 8th September, is just around the corner. Once again, we’ll be marking the occasion by supporting libraries in Africa to hold events promoting the value of reading to their communities, but we also wanted to do a bit more. We’re launching a campaign, ‘Where Literacy Thrives’, to showcase how libraries and librarians create places where literacy can thrive and how books are vital to those still struggling to overcome illiteracy or low reading levels today.

Chikonga Community School, Zambia
A teacher takes a look at a book with a pupil at Chikonga Community School in Zambia

The challenge

Globally at least 758 million youth and adults still cannot read and write and 250 million children are failing to acquire basic literacy skills[i]. Becoming literate enables people to find jobs, shape their own futures and has even been shown to allow mothers to raise healthier children, so increased literacy rates is vital to changing lives worldwide.

The challenges to literacy differ around the world, but no matter where a person lives they need books to learn to read. Without books in schools, children are less able to become confident readers. Adults with low literacy who cannot access books will have very few opportunities to even attempt to learn to read. These individuals also need support as they begin to read and overcome illiteracy.


Lagam, Kenya
Sharing books after an adult education class in Chesengoch, Kenya

Celebrating libraries this International Literacy Day

International Literacy Day is celebrated annually worldwide and brings together governments, NGOs, private sectors, communities, teachers and learners to mark all that literacy makes possible and reflect on the challenges to literacy that remain.

This year, we are celebrating International Literacy Day by shining a light on the unsung librarians, teachers, volunteers and educators who maintain and create spaces where literacy thrives.

Librarians have a critical role to play in helping children who are growing up in non-literate households discover books and offering a helping hand to adults who are learning to read later in life. Libraries in communities where illiteracy is high are also often best placed to advocate for the value of books and reading in their own communities.

Many of the librarians we support do much more than simply waiting in their libraries for readers to visit. They are reaching out to schools, running mobile library services for remote communities and working with community leaders to raise awareness of the value of literacy.

Regeza Mwendo Community School, Zanzibar
Pupils share a book at Regeza Mwendo Community School in Zanzibar

Highlighting the places where #LiteracyThrives

We have asked our partners around the world to share photos of their work helping literacy and learning flourish. In the run up to International Literacy Day, we will share a photos, quotes and stories from our partners showcasing all the diverse ways that libraries help people discover books, read and become more literate.

Thanks to funds from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we are also funding our partners to hold their own events promoting the value of reading on or around International Literacy Day in 10 countries. We’ll cap our International Literacy Day celebrations by live tweeting as many of those events as possible. Follow @book_aid or join us on Facebook to stay up to date.

Show us how #LiteracyThrives where you live

This campaign isn’t just about what is happening in our global partner network – we want to see photos of all the ways that literacy is changing people’s lives where you live. We’re encouraging readers, librarians, families and educators both at home and aboard to join us in the week leading up to International Literacy Day by sharing their own experiences on social media using the hashtag #LiteracyThrives.

To take part, you can:

– Share a photo of yourself reading
– Share a video of your classroom or library
– Share a photo of the book that got you excited about reading
-Share your favourite quote about reading or literacy
– Share a photo of your family reading together
– Share a story of how reading has helped you or someone you know

After International Literacy Day, we’ll pull all of these photos, quotes and videos together and create a gallery that shows all the ways that literacy and books are changing lives.  We hope that you will take part as we celebrate literacy!

Don’t forget to include the hashtag #LiteracyThrives!


[i] http://en.unesco.org/themes/literacy-all

You may also like

Books and reading can change a life at any time. Read Kenneth's story.
Read more >
Take a look at all the communities
we work with partners in to help literacy thrive.
Read more >
We're working to get books to the communities
where they're most needed.
Read more >