International Literacy Day

International Literacy Day

International Literacy Day, observed annually on September 8, focuses attention on worldwide literacy needs. More than 774 million of the world's adults (nearly two-thirds of whom are women) do not know how to read or write, and roughly 123 million children lack those same skills, and are often denied any access to education.

For 2013, the International Reading Association adopted the theme "Invent Your Future." Our goal? To help shine a light on the crucial literacy skills that prime students for success in school, work, and life.

Download our 2013 ILD event kit, full of classroom ideas for students ages 5–15+.  

To increase participation from schools, libraries, organizations, and corporations, IRA observed International Literacy Day on Monday, September 9, 2013, and continued the celebration throughout the month of September.

Career Ready Reading:
What Employers Need from Schools and How We Can Work Together

IRA hosted an International Literacy Day celebration in Washington, DC, on September 9, 2013, featuring Mrs. Alma Powell, chair of America's Promise Alliance, and Dr. Maureen McLaughlin, president of the International Reading Association.

Rich Long, IRA’s Director of Government Relations, moderated a panel with guests Glenn Marshall, National Association for Manufacturing Excellence; Ann Kennedy, English/Reading Specialist at Arlington Mill HS, Arlington, VA; Rich Carson, Rotary International; and Jaimie Matthews, U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Download Event Program

Career Success Demands Strong 21st Century Literacy Skills

UNESCO International Literacy Prizes

UNESCO is committed to supporting effective literacy policies and programs. To that effect, the Organization honors excellence and innovation in the field of literacy throughout the world. Every year, on the occasion of International Literacy Day (8 September), UNESCO awards the International Literacy Prizes to institutions, organizations and individuals whose efforts contribute to the promotion of dynamic literate societies.

For more information, please visit the UNESCO website.

Pearson Foundation-IRA-Rotary Literacy Award

The Pearson Foundation-IRA-Rotary $2500 award to two literacy projects of excellence will be awarded in 2014. Literacy projects jointly undertaken by a Rotary club and an IRA council or affiliate are eligible.


Award Information and Application Form

Literacy Award Overview (Spanish)

Literacy Award Submission Form (Spanish)

IRA Councils: How will you observe the day?

In past years, IRA councils and individual members have found a variety of ways to observe International Literacy Day—from organizing themed readings in local schools and libraries to supporting national and international literacy programs. All year round, councils are invited to contact their local Rotary clubs to explore ways they can work together in support of literacy. See the Rotary-IRA Special Interest Group page more information.

Tell us how you plan to celebrate ILD by sharing your stories and photos on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Use the hashtag #ILD13 so that others can join your celebration!

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