Literacy sparks lifetime of learning

Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.

- Maya Angelou

With ABC Family Literacy Day coming up on Jan. 25, it's a good time to think about the importance of reading in our lives - and especially for children.

The ability to read is something many of take for granted, but statistics for Canada suggest we shouldn't.

According to the Canadian Literacy and Learning Network (a project funded by the government of Canada), 42 per cent of Canadian adults between the ages of 16 and 65 have low literacy skills.

Further, 55 per cent of working-age adults are estimated to have less than adequate health literacy skilled. This figure jumps to 88 per cent of adults over 65 years old.

That means there are a lot of people lacking the basic skills needed to make sense out of health-care information and use it properly. They may not even be able to follow instructions given to them for treatment.

How we arrived at this state of affairs is a matter of much debate. But regardless of the reasons behind it, we can still take responsibility for the situation we find ourselves in and move forward.

That's why it's heartening to see efforts such as the Heap the Honda children's book drive stacking up donations for the fifth year in a row.

This annual effort distributes thousands of new and gently used books to children eager to read stories - or hear them from their parents.

Learning to read as early as possible is like a spark that ignites a lifetime of learning in virtually every subject imaginable.

The ability to understand words and sentences is just the beginning. Readers and interpret and apply their knowledge. This not only makes lives more sustainable but also more enriched.

As Maya Angelou points out, the habit of reading might start out with something as simple and entertaining as The Cat in the Hat. But the possibilities are endless.

© Copyright 2018 Kamloops Daily News

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