GFWC Focus on Literacy Program Bulletin
Literacy involves two skills, reading and writing. They are the most important skills of all; without them, one cannot acquire a stable job, read a map, share a story with a loved one, write a letter, use a computer, order from a menu, or complete a medical or employment form. These two skills are the staring points for all economic and social opportunities this world has to offer. Remember that, according to former President Bill Clinton, “Literacy is not a luxury, it is a right and responsibility for all."
As clubwomen, it should be our goal to work with schools and organizations in our communities to increase youth and adult literacy. GFWC clubs can provide a valuable service to members of their communities by participating in literacy events. September 8, 2008, is International Literacy Day, but literacy events can continue throughout the year. It is vital that clubs connect and work with their schools to promote literacy programs and projects. More than 780 million of the world’s adults (nearly two-thirds of whom are women) do not know how to read or write and between 94 and 115 million children lack access to education, according to the International Reading Association. One such literacy activity will be held in Washington D.C. on September 8. The theme is Reading Across Continents , which will connect students and teachers electronically around the world.
Here are some ideas to celebrate International Literacy Day in your community:
- Hold a school activity called Stop...Drop… and Read! Work with schools to make this a fun time to share a good book with a friend or classmate. Make it a contest and always have awards. How about a book for the student who reads the most, or for the student who works well to help others read?
- Have an ice cream social and bring a book to share. Inquire with your local bookstores for donations of books. Give all the attendees a bookmark.
- Encourage a local author to hold a book signing at your library or bookstore. Give a prize to the school with the most attendees.
- Donate books/magazines to medical offices and hospitals in the area. Medical personnel can distribute books to young families to encourage reading to their children.
- Hold a Community Reading Festival. Encourage town celebrities to share their favorite book with the children, and please include food! How about burgers and books or pizza, prizes (books/bookmarks) and personalities?
- Encourage young children reading at themed parties at your local library. Use nooks like Curious George, Fancy Nancy, Amelia Bedilia, or any other of the children’s favorite books. Let the treats coincide with the books for example banana bread with Curious George, or tea party with dress up for Fancy Nancy.
- Share a book with a friend! Have children bring a favorite stuffed animal to school and read to their animals! Don’t forget to give each child a special bookmark.
LEARN MORE FROM THE FOLLOWING RESOURCES
» First Book is dedicated to giving books to children in need.
»Books for Kids is sponsored by Starbucks and will help establish libraries in low-income areas.
»Interactive reading exchanges around the world include Reading Across Continents.
» Order free publications and resources from the U.S. Department of Education.
VOLUNTERRING IN LITERACY PROGRAMS
Volunteers are critical to the literacy movement. Volunteering allows us to put our skills and interests to work and help all of us share the excitement of reading, writing, and the ability to communicate successfully with those less able to do so. The National Center for Family Literacy believes that volunteering becomes a two-way street. When you give your time and expertise to help those less literate, you receive the satisfaction of improving lives and improving life in those communities. You also learn new skills and discover a personal growth and pride in a job well done.
Some of the ways you can make a difference as a volunteer in literacy are:
- Tutoring in an adult education or children’s classroom
- Sharing your career expertise with parents
- Reading aloud to children and families
- Donating money or goods
- Recruiting other volunteers
- Raising public awareness of such programs in your area
- Advocating for community-wide support
- Learning more by connecting with literacy volunteer groups in your area
The gift of literacy through Talking Books is made possible through a program of the Library of Congress. Audio books are an invaluable resource for the blind, physically handicapped, and learning disabled. Books on tape are also a wonderful donation for clubs to give to schools and libraries. Use the contact information provided to find your local Talking Books affiliate
Please remember to include all your literacy activities in your program reports!
—Mary Ann Pierce (Mass.), GFWC Literacy Program Chairman 2008-2010