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Get Ready for International Literacy Day 2022

By Wes Ford
 | Aug 31, 2022

Mother and daughter readingThe end of August is synonymous with a few things around ILA headquarters: shorter days and longer nights, kids returning to school (for those with school-aged children), the local Renaissance Fairs opening for the season (though, this one could just be me…), and International Literacy Day (ILD) being just around the corner.

Celebrated on September 8 each year, ILD was created by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 1967 to “remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights, and to advance the literacy agenda towards a more literate and sustainable society.”

Now is the time to consider the future of education

The theme for ILD this year is Transforming Literacy Learning Spaces. This is a timely theme in the wake of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic that shut down schools and drastically shifted how many students across the globe accessed literacy education.

For many educators, there is an idea of a normal to which we could return. But many students do not have such a memory. Before we slip back into the pre-COVID way of teaching—whether we do so out of nostalgia or simply because that’s how it has always been—we need to examine if we should return to that way of teaching. What elements should we bring into the post-COVID world, and which are better left as remnants of the bygone era best left behind us?

How can you transform literacy learning spaces?

The scope of the answers to that quandary vary greatly depending upon the role of the ruminator:

For administrators and policymakers, these questions apply to how literacy education is offered and accessed.

For researchers, here lies an opportunity to explore the outcomes of digital learning and virtual classrooms and how best to accelerate student learning after the gap.

For classroom teachers and librarians, this transformation could be more literal and physical: How can you change the way learners are using your space to access learning?

And let’s not forget families, caregivers, and communities at large who should consider how best to center and promote literacy and guarantee access to quality, appropriate, and inclusive reading materials for all readers.

In the wake of a challenge as tumultuous as a worldwide pandemic, we are presented with the opportunity to forge a new path forward. Let’s not let this opportunity to reinvent and reinvigorate literacy education pass us by in a rush to return to a comfortable but no-longer-appropriate “normal.”

Resources to spark your imagination

As ILD’s theme invites you to consider a new path forward, ILA resources can give you a jumping off point.

The free Dungeons and Dragons webinar series—sponsored in part by Wizards of the Coast—offers an excellent example of how literacy learning spaces can be transformed from the more common teacher-directed lesson plans into joyful, student-led game sessions that build emotional literacy, draw in reluctant readers, and propel writing instruction through shared storytelling.

The following resources might also spur your imagination and help you evaluate how literacy learning spaces can transform into something magical.

Rethinking a new normal

Let’s Not Return to Normal,” by ILA Board Member Molly Ness

An Opportunity for Change,” a Q&A with groundbreaking scholar Gloria Ladson-Billings

What Should Equitable and Comprehensive Early Literacy Instruction Look Like in 2020 and Beyond? with ILA President of the Board Kenneth Kunz, ILA member Diane Lapp, ILA member Susan B. Neuman, past president of IRA (now ILA) Patricia A. Edwards, past president of the ILA Board Douglas Fisher, ILA member Sonia Cabell, ILA Vice President of the Board Kia Brown-Dudley, Lisa Forehand, and Lesley Mandel Morrow

Reimagining literacy learning spaces

Classrooms That Spark Joy,” by ILA 30 Under 30 honoree Jigyasa Labroo and Umaima Ehtasham

From the Unknown to the Reimagined,” by ILA member Amanda Shimizu and Jill Sylvia

Literacy Redesigned,” by ILA member Brandi MacDonald

Literacy Teaching in Turbulent Times, with Ernest Morrell and Nell K. Duke

Access to literacy

Book Access in the Post-COVID Era, with Susan B. Neuman and ILA 30 Under 30 honorees Allister Fa Chang and Karlos L. Marshall

Meeting People Where They Are,” by ILA 30 Under 30 honorees Allister Fa Chang and Karlos L. Marshall

 

For more resources from ILA, check out our new Resources by Topic pages. The Teaching in the Time of COVID and Digital Literacy are particularly poignant to this conversation.

Let us know how you are celebrating ILD this year in your school and your community. Tag us on social media (@ILAToday on Instagram and Twitter) or send us your stories at social@reading.org. And continue to reach out to us throughout the year. We want to hear not only how you are transforming literacy learning spaces but also the outcomes of that transformation.

Stay in touch!

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