Maha, 13, is holding the lead to a camel, which carries a portable library on its back

Join us on International Literacy day-and every day-to help girls like Maha, who lives in Ethiopia and received books via a mobile camel library.

International Literacy Day

Children in the United States and around the world are facing an unprecedented literacy crisis. Before the  COVID-19 pandemic, the number of children lacking basic reading skills appeared to be dropping. However, in 2020, that number rose by a staggering 20% from 483 million to 584 million. [1]

The world's children deserve better.

This International Literacy Day, join Save the Children as we ensure that children around the world have the opportunity to learn, read and thrive.

When is International Literacy Day?

This year, International Literacy Day is September 8th, 2021.

What is International Literacy Day?

International Literacy Day is a UNESCO day of observance that highlights the importance of literacy for all people, communities and societies. The 2021 theme is "Literacy for a human-centered recovery: Narrowing the digital divide". 

The Effect of Poverty on Child Literacy

At-home learning is more important than ever. However, poverty can seriously restrict children’s access to resources outside the classroom that they need to thrive. When children are deprived of interaction with adults or experience persistent stress, their young minds are susceptible to damaging effects on learning, development, wellbeing and health, which can last their entire lives. 

  • Reaching the most vulnerable

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.

  • Literacy Boost

For elementary school children, our education experts developed Literacy Boost – our proven response to the global literacy 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.

COVID-19 Has Intensified the Learning Crisis

A boy sits on the floor reading a book and wearing a mask.

Jayden, a second-grader in Tennesse, reads a book during Save the Children’s Guided Independent Reading Program at his school. Due to COVID-19, he only attends school on two days a week. 

  • Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 53% of children in low and middle-income countries could not read. 
  • At its peak during the COVID-19 Pandemic, 1.6 billion children were out of school – approximately 90% of the entire student population.
  • Today, Up to 9.7 million children are at risk of dropping out of school due to rising levels of child poverty exacerbated by COVID-19

All of this amounts to a global education 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 literacy crisis and help children learn to love reading.

Sponsor a Child This International Literacy Day

Many of our sponsorship programs focus on literacy and fostering a love of reading. By sponsoring a child – in the U.S. or around the world – your support is pivotal in giving them the opportunity to reach their full potential. Learn more about our sponsorship programs and why over 80,000 Americans support Save the Children as sponsors.  

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