Did you know1 that:

  • Among working age Canadians, 3 million (14.6%) struggle with very serious literacy challenges. They have difficulty with even the most basic written materials. Another 5.8 million (27%) can work with print information but not well.
  • More than half of Canadians (55%) do not have the minimum numeracy skills necessary to meet the information demands of today’s world.
  • The literacy skills of parents directly affect their family’s income, health and overall quality of life.
  • Canadians with lower levels of literacy are more likely to be unemployed and earn less.
  • Use of computers is lowest among those with low literacy – meaning that in addition to a digital divide, non-users may also face a literacy challenge.
  • Reports show that a 1% increase in literacy skills would boost productivity by 2.5% and lead to a 1.5% permanent increase in GDP – that’s $18 billion a year.
  • Children who have not developed some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are 3 – 4 times more likely to drop out in later years.

Everyone can help promote literacy and lifelong learning. Now, I know that a number of you are avid readers, and I’m probably preaching to the choir about literacy. So how can we help others?

Think about your book shelf. How many books do you have that you don’t even want anymore? Maybe you’ve finished reading them and didn’t enjoy it, or can’t think of someone else who will. Maybe it’s your old calculus and economics textbooks. Perhaps you don’t know what to do with that set of Encyclopedias you got for your 18th birthday.

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Gather up those unwanted books (of any shape, size, genre, or value) and donate them. Books that are in good shape can be sold to raise money for a good cause and other books that are out of date or in bad shape can be recycled into new books.

The BIG Book Drive

If you live in the Lower Mainland, The BIG Book Drive is happening March 19 & 20 in Burnaby. The event takes place from 10am to 6pm, rain or shine. There will be food, refreshments, entertainment and even live music.

Drop off your unwanted books and they will either be sold at used bookstores to generate proceeds, donated to the charities they’re working with, or recycled to be remade into new books. Either way, 100% of the proceeds will be donated!

If you aren’t in the area—I know a lot of my blog friends live all around the world—check for something like this in your area. Contact your local literacy society or organization and ask about donating unwanted books.

1. Canadian data from the International Adult Literacy and Skills Survey (IALSS) released in November 2005, published via Literacy BC.