When going over the calendar for the month of September you will see that on September 8th, we celebrate World Literacy Day which was proclaimed by UNESCO in 1966. Diving deeper into this topic you will find statistics showing that while in 1820 just 15% of the world’s population was literate, today – around 200 years later – it is the other way around, just 15% of the world’s population is illiterate, an improvement of more than 70%.
To many of us, being able to read and write is one of the most habitual and unconscious things we do and experience on a daily basis. And while we can and should be very grateful for this normality, we might also profit from a little reminder of how we can express our acknowledgement of our privilege. But before we dive into some ways of celebrating World Literacy Day, let’s refresh our memories and see how the act of writing actually benefits us personally.
The act of writing – with pen and paper, mind you – has tons of benefits for our memory, learning and critical thinking capabilities:
While putting pen to paper and writing our notes, we create an additional memory layer helping us to access the stored information easier and for longer.
With writing we create a visual representation of the information in our head and thus activate parts in our brain that are responsible for actually comprehending and understanding the information better.
Writing is a great help for our reading, spelling and general language skills as we train ourselves in how certain words have to look like and how a proper sentence should flow.
We tend to write better and more when we write by hand instead of typing. That means that more ideas get expressed and we feel a sense of completion.
Handwriting is a reel boost for creativity as it calms our mind and brings us into a flow state. This is when our brains actually get the time to process and form ideas.
Taking notes ‘the old-fashioned way’ usually takes longer than typing them on e.g. your laptop. Why is that a benefit? Due to the lower speed you are ‘forced’ to summarise the information more as there is no time to write down every word you hear. When we are required to summarise information, we already start thinking about the information at hand and assess the importance of the individual pieces and how they fit together. All of this trains our muscle of critical thinking which in turn is proven to enhance your happiness, well-being, self-reflection and decision-making skills, as well as your communication style.
Head over to our Intentional Handwriting Guide and read more on the topic of Handwriting vs. Typing:
Understanding why writing – and especially handwriting – is so important to us personally should already be incentive enough to further our own and other’s reading and writing skills. The topic on literacy seen on a global level however influences even bigger and probably even more important issues: The ability to read and write is one of the foundations for reducing poverty, improving socio-economic status, reducing population growth, minimising child and maternal mortality rates, and balancing out gender and equality on a sustainable level.
So what can you do to support that cause? Reading a book and journaling are of course the easier go-to options. And while we wholeheartedly encourage you to do that, you might want to think about celebrating World Literacy Day by connecting with others on their reading and writing journey. Here are 5 meaningful ways to do just that:
donate a book
Browse through your own stash of books and select a few which you can donate to a local library, schools or community centres.
donate your time
If you don’t have any books to donate, maybe you can free up some of your time and tutor someone to improve their reading or writing skills?!
And if that also doesn’t work, you can simply donate to charities or community centres to further their efforts in teaching reading and writing.
organise a book swap
Contact some friends and organise a book swap. We all have those books lying around that we have read years ago but which would have a better home someplace else…
Build awareness among others and share your activities on social media with the #InternationalLiteracyDay, inspiring others to join you!
Whatever you decide to do on September 8th, act with the intention of benevolence and joy and don’t forget to have fun along the way! When you do decide to share your activities on social media, tag us via @nezliving so that we can cheer along the sidelines…