Literacy has always been close to my heart. Even before I could write a sentence, I am told that I filled line after line on pages of notebooks with “scribble scrabble,” my very own version of words. As I grew older, you could find me hiding underneath the covers of my bed, reading to the illumination of a flashlight.
Illumination. There is something enlightening about the ability to read and to write. And something even more illuminating about having the resources to do so—freely having the paper, the pens, the books, the space in which to engage in the world of words.
For much of the world, scarcity of resources is a true roadblock to literacy. Yet there are organizations that work to tear down the roadblocks to literacy for many people. One such organization is Room to Read.
Founded in 2000, Room to Read is an organization that endeavors to educate children around the world by providing a variety of resources to make literacy happen. Room to Read estimates that the opportunity to be educated in reading and writing is lacking for more than 300 million children worldwide!
The question is, how does Room to Read address such a daunting problem? Very practically, with what they call their “Four core programs.”
- The Reading Room program creates libraries by providing books and the space in which to house and read them.
- The School Room program addresses the need for primary and secondary schools by building them in communities where there are none.
- The Local Language Publishing program utilizes the gifts of writers around the world to create reading materials that are relevant to the new readers themselves!
- And finally, the Girls’ Education program focuses on educating girls – providing equal access to the resources and support that tend to be more readily available to boys.
What is unique about this organization is its focus on “empowering communities.” Room to Read is committed to encouraging local engagement in the projects so that they can contribute to the long-term development and growth that continues to be relevant in the local community.
It takes more than local community involvement, however, for Room to Read to accomplish its work. From attending events to giving donations to initiating fundraising campaigns, people thousands of miles away participate, too! And their efforts are essential to the growth of Room to Read’s programs.
Literacy certainly isn’t an end in and of itself. Rather, it opens the door (and illuminates the path, so to speak) for children to excel in leadership and development in their countries, and gives them the possibility to engage with the world around them in new ways.
This is the kind of possibility that begins with scribbles on the page!
To learn more about Room to Read, or to participate in their mission, check out their website and blog at www.RoomToRead.org.