My life revolves around two things: the people I love and the written word. I can picture my life being different had I lived somewhere else or worked different jobs, but the thought of being without those people and without the ability to read and write is unimaginable. It isn’t just a question of what would my life be like; it’s a question of who would I be.
Two of the most special moments of each day for me are the many times I sit and read to my daughters and late at night when I sit with my own thoughts and write my own words. For 774 million people around the world, these moments are not possible. There are 774 million people who cannot read and write. 774 million for whom information is limited to what they can see and what they are told. 774 million whose thoughts and ideas go unrecorded save for some assistance. 774 million whose universe is constrained by their inability to see beyond the horizon through the written word. 774 million people who have never been able to take that journey that a good book makes possible.
Knowledge truly is power and knowledge coupled with imagination is unstoppable. Knowledge is so often contained in the written word, requiring literacy to unlock it, and imagination both can be born of and give birth to the written word. Global liberation requires global literacy first. Until global literacy can become a reality, these millions will remain marginalized, their political might co-opted.
This Wednesday, March 9, is World Read Aloud Day. This event is organized by LitWorld and, in their words, “is about taking action to show the world that the right to read and write belongs to all people. World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words, especially those words that are shared from one person to another, and creates a community of readers advocating for every child’s right to a safe education and access to books and technology. By raising our voices together on this day we show the world’s children that we support their future: that they have the right to read, to write, and to share their words to change the world.”