Strong literacy skills are necessary for learning, work and everyday life

The definition of literacy is changing as our society transforms and grows. Low literacy is defined as having difficulty in reading, understanding and functioning effectively with written materials. Being literate in the 21st century means having the ability to read, write and express critical thought through verbal, print, visual and digital formats.

According to the National Literacy Trust, around 16.4% of adults in England are “functionally illiterate,” meaning they lack the skills needed for the working world. Without proper literacy skills, things such as job applications, completing paperwork and understanding written instructions can be difficult—decreasing the chances of a healthy and productive life. Well-rounded literacy skills allow people to reach their full potential, and are linked to improved self-esteem and happiness.

The largest barrier to children’s literacy in low income communities is a lack of books. Without access to books, children don’t build critical reading skills and are less likely to reach their academic potential. This jeopardises their future success. Help the next generation of young leaders to become empowered through reading, by organising a book collection or reading with a younger child in your community.

Fast facts

  • Those with functional literacy skills earn on average 12% more than those with lower literacy skills.

  • 1 in 8 disadvantaged children in the UK say that they don't have a book of their own.

  • Adults with lower levels of literacy are more likely to believe that they have little impact on political processes, and are less likely to participate in volunteer activities.

  • Studies show that reading for pleasure builds empathy, self-understanding, and the ability to understand other peoples’ identities.

Reading for pleasure

Celebrated author Jane Austen once wrote: “A fondness for reading, properly directed, must be an education in itself.” Today, just as then, reading can open doors, help us to appreciate different opinions and fill us with emotions.

Books introduce us to whole new worlds and people, and help us to learn about our own. By developing good literacy skills at a young age, children can find joy in reading and become well-rounded individuals. Hone your literacy skills or support others to enhance their own, and unlock the power of reading!

Be a champion for literacy with WE Read Together!

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