Probably not a great deal, but you should. Not because of the opportunity to sample my ever-so-sparkling prose (yeah, right!), but because far too many people in Aotearoa have difficulty in reading and understanding what they read at all. In fact, according to the results of the Adult Literacy and Life Skills (ALL) Survey, over 40% of the adult population in New Zealand have low literacy skills.
It is hard to fully comprehend the difficulties that this large minority of people faces in dealing with the demands of everyday life. So here’s my challenge to you on this International Literacy Day, 8 September: stop and think about how often you rely on the written word … And how reading involves a lot more than just deciphering letters (ever felt lost trying to fill in an official form? I know I have, and I have a Master’s degree). Literacy Aotearoa has some suggestions.
So how can we help those who struggle with reading, writing and basic maths? Well, if you have taken my challenge, you are already helping: having an awareness of the issue is a great start.
If you would like to improve your literacy skills, or want to help someone else do so, try the following links.
- Find adult literacy providers in CINCH. ARAS (Adult Reading Assistance Scheme) offers free tutoring on a one-on-one or small group basis, and is always looking for new volunteers to train as tutors. If tutoring is not your thing, you can support the scheme by becoming a Friend of ARAS. Hagley Adult Literacy Centre offers a more structured class-based approach, as well as Community Programmes in in Aranui, Shirley, Papanui, Rowley, the Central City and St Albans;
- Explore the education resources in our Internet Gateway – the Literacy Aotearoa website is particularly useful;
- Browse the English language skills collections. These are available at most of our libraries and include a range of resources to help develop literacy skills, as well as simplified readers – books which have been written or re-written especially so that they can be enjoyed by people with different levels of reading ability. You can find these in the catalogue by searching for the following series: Macmillan Readers, Penguin Readers, Cambridge English Readers, and Quick Reads;
- Use the library! We have collections to cater to all interests and needs.