Shining a Spotlight on Literacy Needs


On September 8th, the Brooklyn Reading Council (BRC) held their annual International Literacy Day (ILD) book giveaway at the Spring Creek Towers’ (SCT) shopping center, distributing over 1,000 free books to the community.

ILD is a worldwide event created by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1967 to spread awareness on the importance of literacy and education. This year’s theme was, “Literacy and Skills Development,” which emphasized the power of learning skill sets. The ability to become literate in computer coding or even engaging young children in career education can be empowering for a community.

According to UNESCO’s website, “Despite progress made, literacy challenges persist, and at the same time the demands for skills required for work, evolve rapidly. This year, ILD explores and highlights integrated approaches that simultaneously can support the development of literacy and skills, to ultimately improve people’s life and work and contribute to equitable and sustainable societies.”

It was reported by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Institute of Literacy that approximately 774 million adults around the world are illiterate. The lack of literacy coupled with the demand for technological development in the labor market limits the opportunities available for those not well prepared for jobs. A study by the International Labor Organization found that there are about 192 million people who are unemployed. This figure could increase even more if education and training are not improved or at least expanded to cover technology usage.

The BRC wants to help in this fight against illiteracy and to improve job opportunities for everyone by providing educational books for people of all ages.

On the third day of school, just before the morning school bells rang, parents and their children were able to pick up a handful of free books. Some grabbed mysteries and action packed adventures, while others snagged copies of fantasy and sci-fi novels.

Patresse Smalls has only lived in the SCT community for two years, and this was her first time experiencing BRC’s educational event. “I think this is such a great event and having it next to the schools is an excellent idea because it gets children excited to read,” Smalls said.

Throughout the day, (from 7 am to 5 pm) dozens of readers of all ages were able to sift through a pile of books that were divided into age appropriate sections. Parents and children were happily assisted by energetic and helpful volunteers from BRC, the National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, Inc. /Theta Chapter and the Popular Literary Club. In addition to the book giveaway, these volunteers handed out bookmarks, pamphlets about literacy, resources for writing, parenting tips and teaching materials.

Malissa Solis is a mother of four who often finds it difficult to purchase books that help keep her children engaged. “The book giveaway really helps me, not only because it’s free, but my kids are excited to join their friends in picking out the books they find the most interesting,” she said joyfully while holding onto a stack of books to put into her car.

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 book giveaway is one of many activities conducted by the BRC, to find out more visit or email

Photos by Amanda Moses