More often than not, we forget the importance that literacy has in our everyday life. When you read road signs, check social media, or even when you’re scanning signs in your local grocery store to make sure you are going down the right aisle, you are using your literacy skills.
Literacy is at the heart of just about everything we do.
This International Literacy Day, we would like to highlight that literacy is the key to your students’ success and, ultimately, the success of all individuals. International Literacy Day is a day dedicated to the advancement of the worldwide state of literacy and a reminder of the importance of literacy as it pertains to human rights.
Reading is not a natural skill but rather a learned one, as written language has only been around for about 5,000 years. A 2020 Forbes article states that according to the U.S. Department of Education, 54% of U.S. adults lack proficiency in literacy. That’s roughly 130 million people! Many individuals who lack proficiency in reading face trouble in school, at work and at home, and even with the law.
So, how exactly is literacy the key to your students’ success?
Communication and writing skills are more important than ever due to the increased flow of information constantly at our fingertips. One must know how to read and write in order to send a text message, pay bills, or get work done. If students do not grasp these skills at an early age, they are at risk of incompetence and the inability to perform tasks for their future careers.
Students must also be able to read proficiently to understand what they are learning in other subject areas such as math, science, history, and even art. In fact, they must be able to read instructions to be able to perform a task or take a test. Simply having the knowledge is not enough if your students are unable to communicate what they know on paper.
The connection that illiteracy has to the negative outcomes a student may face in the future is surprising. We know that in America:
- 1 out of 4 children grow up without learning to read
- Students who don’t read proficiently by 3rd grade are 4x more likely to drop out of school
- 2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade are more likely to end up in jail or on welfare
The Department of Justice states, “The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure. Over 70% of inmates in America’s prisons cannot read above a fourth-grade level.”
IMSE aids educators and education leaders in providing a roadmap for literacy for all students – both children and adults. By combating the issue in the early years, students and their teachers are addressing the problem before it becomes a problem. By providing direct, explicit, multi-sensory instruction, students are able to break down how to read and apply it directly to what they are learning.
Once students have a firm grasp on learning to read, they are able to read to learn. These students are now able to apply their reading skills to learn about the subjects that matter most to them. The student who aspires to be a doctor can research new diseases, and the student who dreams of becoming a skilled musician is able to decode lyrics and deliver a beautiful melody.
Literacy really is the foundation for all things learning and provides students with a roadmap to success across all subject matter.
Language and literacy are of personal, social, and economic importance. Through our ability to use language, we are able to develop the expression of emotions, thinking, learning, and our sense of personal identity. 
Students must possess the skills in order to move on to college or fill out a job application. All of this is done with the fundamental skills of reading and writing.
Schools that showcase increased trends in 3rd-grade literacy rates enable their students to create a community of productive citizens. These students are well-positioned to provide economic opportunity, and are best prepared to take national leadership roles in business, industry, technological innovation, and thought leadership. 
This International Literacy Day, remember the importance of literacy in today’s world. With the struggle to catch back up for students who are experiencing learning loss, it is only right to emphasize the direction we at IMSE and many others across the world are working towards to bring a better state of literacy everywhere.
Please connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest to get tips and tricks from your peers and us. Read the IMSE Journal to hear success stories from other schools and districts, and be sure to check out our digital resources for refreshers and tips.