Save the Children provides access to books, support for parents, teacher training, preschool opportunities and after-school programs to help set children up for success.

International Literacy Day: September 8, 2021.

Imagine going to school every day, but never learning your ABCs. Or picture yourself flipping through a book only to see pages full of symbols, unaware of their meaning or the stories they tell.1

For nearly 400 million school-age children2 around the world who can’t read or write, that’s a reality they face every day. Even though more children are enrolled in school today than ever before, the fact remains that going to school isn’t enough to ensure learning.3

For children living in extreme poverty, girls and those with few books or no one to read to them at home, the chance to reach their full potential is even further out of reach. That’s why Save the Children’s education experts support children, caregivers and schools to develop children’s literacy skills from birth into their school years. For elementary school children, our education experts developed Literacy Boost, a proven response to the global illiteracy crisis. We now provide Literacy Boost in 36 countries, with evidence showing that participating students improve reading comprehension by an average of 30%, and they’re up to 40% more likely to progress to third grade.4

About Child Literacy

You can’t judge a book by its cover, any more than you can judge a child by the circumstances into which they were born. Every child has a right to reach their full potential but for kids who can't read or write, their dreams don't stand a chance.

  • In the United States, more than 60% of low-income families have no children’s books in their home.5
  • By age 3, children in low-income households hear an average of 30 million fewer words than their peers, putting them 18 months behind developmentally.6
  • Globally, about 15 million girls will never have the opportunity to learn to read and write in elementary school.7
  • 1 billion children live in countries plagued by poverty.8 Children living in poverty face a higher risk of being out of school and having their hopes for a more prosperous future erased by illiteracy.

All of this amounts to a global crisis we cannot ignore. On International Literacy Day and every day, Save the Children celebrates the importance of reading and writing from an early age. Join us, and together we can end the illiteracy crisis and help children learn to love reading.

Inspiring Stories From Emerging Readers:

Even with access to school, some 250 million children around the world struggle to learn basic reading and writing skills by age 99, feeding the cycle of poverty for them and their families. Save the Children run after school reading camps to support children in school across West Sumba. Using story, song and play, children like Angelita are getting help they need to become lifelong readers. Meet Angelita.


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