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Why Is Literacy Important?

For many, many years literacy and mathematics have been the foundation of learning in the education system. While in recent times, some may want to ignore the benefits of literacy, because of the financial success of some celebrities based on athletics or appearance, I want to bring our attention back to the basics. Is there value in literacy? Just how important is literacy for children in our world today?


The most important function of literacy is communication. Being able to read and write is crucial if you are going to understand and be understood in the written word. Children who are illiterate lack the ability to properly express themselves through writing. They also are robbed of the joys and challenges of connecting with someone else's written expression. They can't enjoy a good story. They can't share a joke, a thought, or a need through writing.

No matter how much the fact may try to be glossed over by video and visual technology, communication through reading and writing will always be necessary. Even Youtubers use scripts. Even vloggers read the comments from their followers and are expected to respond. Visual technology still relies heavily on the written word in order for shows, episodes or segments to function smoothly.

Once you find yourself working with a team, the ability to read and write becomes necessary. Emails, notes, reminders, and even cellphone functions require a degree of literacy. What has actually happened, is that as modern society has progressed in technology, the necessity of being able to comprehend and understand words and language has grown as well.

Functioning In Modern Society

To be able to function in modern society as an adult, a high degree of literacy is required. For a variety of reasons, but one of the most important ones is that there are a series of basic documents that will come your way whether you want them or not.

An adult who is illiterate can't read or write. This means they can't sign contracts or other legal documents. If they do sign said documents, they will have no idea as to what they are legally binding themselves to. They can't find the loopholes or debate the small print in the thousands of agreements that we are asked to sign by cellphone companies, employment opportunities or lawyers. They can't ask for specific clarity to letters that they don't understand. For an adult caught in this predicament, they may find themselves being taken advantage of.

As parents, teachers, alternative educators, and caregivers to the children in our sphere, we want to make sure that they can put their best foot forward as they face the world and grow into adulthood. In order to do that, we have to take the responsibility to teach the children in our care the value of literacy. It begins with pointing out the words that children come across in their everyday lives. It may be reading road signs, the menu at their favorite restaurant, the logo on the candy at the gas station, or the signs posted at the fruits and vegetables in the grocery store. By placing emphasis on the simple usage of words in a normal day, children will learn the importance of language in the world around them.


The child who is illiterate will grow into the adult who lacks self-confidence because of their inability to process and understand the written word. Being unable to read and write will substantially threaten a person's potential because there are so many areas in life that require us to be able to put our thoughts into words.

To work in any professional career demands that drafts of work be created and approved by a manager or client. There is a level of confidence needed to present ideas to managers or clients. Assurance in one’s own level of work comes from the knowing the value of the piece being produced. If someone is not sure about the professionalism of their work, that lack of confidence will come through the presentation. Basic issues such as not understanding the instructions, or not knowing the expectations become unavoidable problems if the person is illiterate, leading to a noticeable lack of self-confidence.

Before landing that dream career or starting that business, an adult will most likely have to face many interviews, documents, and navigate a sales team. How are they going to apply for these interviews without being able to write and express the reasons why they are a perfect fit for the position? How are they going to start that business when they can't put pen to paper? How are they going to communicate with a sales team without the ability to read or write? Without literacy there is a missing piece in adulthood. Many adults who cannot read or write are acutely aware of their lack of education. This can cause someone to constantly second-guess themselves. There is also the dilemma of trying to find someone who is trustworthy enough to read documents for them.


All the above issues can be avoided when time and consistency is put into teaching children the value of literacy. Not only will they become confident adults who can advance in modern society, but they can continue to grow their skills to become effective communicators who can expertly bring their point across to their audience.

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