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Why Reading?


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There are nearly 800 million people around the world today who cannot read.1 This fact is astonishing given how important one’s ability to read is for learning and development.  Literacy not only forms the basis for individual academic, occupational, and social success,2 but it can also empower communities to fight poverty, reduce child mortality, achieve gender equality, and ensure peace and democracy.3

Reading and School Readiness
Reading aloud to young children is one the most effective ways to prepare children to succeed in school.  However, many children, particularly those living in poverty, are not exposed to books and reading until they begin attending school.  Research shows that books contain many words that children are unlikely to encounter frequently in spoken language. Children's books actually contain 50% more rare words than primetime television or even college students’ conversations.4   How can you help a child succeed in school?  Serve as a volunteer reader or organize a book drive

Reading and Special Needs
Based on US statistics, only 10 percent of blind children are learning Braille. While audio devices are useful sources of information for blind people, only Braille offers complete command of written language.  However, 85 percent of blind children attend public schools where few teachers know Braille. This percentage is even greater in developing countries that lack access to resources and teachers with Braille knowledge5Find organizations that you can work with to reverse this trend

Access to Information and the Digital Divide
Access to technology notably affects literacy rates. The Internet provides opportunities for people to improve their lives. When people go online, they can get health information, use government services, manage finances, look for jobs, and do research for school. For most people in developing and transitioning countries, quality Internet access is not available or affordable. There is a great inequality in the global distribution of information technology. Worldwide, approximately 5 billion people—nearly 90 percent of the world’s population—do not have an opportunity to use computers connected to the internet.6  Learn what the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is doing to bridge the digital divide and how you can help

Technology for Facilitated Learning
Technology provides a wide variety of tools which can be used by people who are blind or have low vision to access information.  The American Foundation for the Blind's goal is to provide the information you need to learn about available technology and even discover new ways to use technology to enhance your everyday life.7  Learn about assistive technology products for individuals with visual impairments

Books and Learning Resources
Before children can be taught effectively, schools or other educational institutions must be created and stocked with adequate teaching materials. Rural schools in many poorer countries are severely limited in their supplies. They may lack textbooks, paper, desks, blackboards, chairs – even pencils. Without good textbooks or other classroom resources, more teachers cannot necessarily improve the quality of learning (UNESCO). Learn about ways you can help get resources into classrooms


1Why Literacy and Gender Equality”, Room to Read
2Kindergarten Readiness and Performance of Latino Children Participating in Reach Out and Read,” Reach Out and Read
3Why is Literacy Important,” UNESCO
4Why is reading aloud to young children so important?” Reach Out and Read
5 “Facing the Truth, Reversing the Trend, Empowering the Blind” National Federation of the Blind
6Access to the internet can change people’s lives”  Global Libraries
7 AFB Product Database


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