Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai once said, “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.” Yousafzai is one of many activists who believe that an education can pave the way for so many opportunities. That is why access to books is so imperative.
Within the United States, there are about 32 million adults who cannot read, according to the U.S. Department of Education and the National Institute of Literacy. In light of this plight, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) created International Literacy Day in 1967. This groundbreaking campaign works to spread awareness on the importance of literacy and education. The theme for their 50th anniversary is “Reading the Past, Writing the Future,” which according to the organization’s website, is a tribute to UNESCO’s work over the past five decades to “addresses current challenges and looks to innovative solutions to further boost literacy in the future.”
On September 8th, the Brooklyn Reading Council (BRC) celebrated International Literacy Day with their annual book giveaway, distributing over 1,000 free books to the Spring Creek Towers (SCT) community.
Battling illiteracy one book at a time, the BRC actively encourages people of all ages to read, and advocates for more literacy programs that are both educational and fun. “Reading is a fundamental tool for every child’s education,” said volunteer Donna Sowerby, who is a member of the BRC and the National Society of Phi Delta Kappa Inc. (Theta Chapter). She believes that giving a child a book is like giving them an opportunity to their future—a chance to become enlightened.
From early morning, just when the school bells reigned in students for the first day of school, to the late evening hours, parents and their children were able to pick up free books in front of the Spring Creek shopping center. Some grabbed mysteries and action-packed adventures, while others snagged copies of fantasy and sci-fi novels. There were all sorts of books available: Harry Potter, Spider-man comic books, Kaplan and Princeton test preps, and romance novels.
Residents were assisted by energetic and helpful volunteers from BRC, the National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, Inc. /Theta Chapter and the Popular Literary Club, where they distributed bookmarks, pamphlets about literacy, resources for writing, parenting tips and teacher materials to anyone who asked.
For the past seven years, Yvette Grant, a NYC public school administrator, has helped coordinate the book giveaway, which is a part of this worldwide, groundbreaking campaign, International Literacy Day. Every year Grant is amazed by the amount of books donated and the wonderful dedication of volunteers, who help setup and distribute the books. “It is such an honor and a recurring feeling of happiness to hold the globally celebrated annual International Literacy Day here at Spring Creek! Not only do many children and adults get to choose from a large amount of interesting free book titles and genres, but we all also get to commemorate this year’s 50th ILD anniversary with the United Nations. The Spring Creek outdoor book party is fun with a purpose; it is a time to offer resources to increase literacy and numeracy rates and a lifetime joy of books.”
The BRC received book donations from various community groups, Starrett City Tenants Association, the Office of Public Affairs/Community Relations, Friends National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa/Theta Chapter, Popular Literary Club, International Reading Association, the Boys and Girl Scouts of America and others.
The event is one of many literacy activities conducted by the BRC to find out more visit http://brooklyn readingcouncil.gmgpro.com/ or email brookylnreadingcouncil@ gmail.com
Photos by: Amanda Moses