Might Literacy be an Economic Engine?

Never mind the oil industry, what about promoting literacy as an economic engine in your community?  I was writing some copy for a website last week and I kept getting the nasty red button from Google because my writing was too difficult for the average reader.  I kept at it, revising my sentences, shortening them, and choosing less complex words.  It was tough.  I had thought that my second attempt would meet the readability criteria but alas it didn't.  So I attacked the keyboard again to do another revision.  By the fourth try I had managed to meet the criteria.  But the whole experience made me wonder about the general state of literacy.

Did you know that 42% of Canadians aged 16-65 struggles with literacy?  Those Canadians are in our workforce trying to get jobs or desperately trying to keep the job they have.  The Canadian Literacy and Learning Network have some interesting statistics on literacy.  They claim "a 1% rise in the literacy rate would generate $18 billion in economic growth every year" (www.literacy.ca).  Imagine what that would do for the Canadian economy.  It made me wonder what might we do to nudge the literacy rate upwards.

Read to a Child

Grandma King reading to Thing 1 and Thing 2
One way to increase literacy is to read to a child, plus its great fun.  I was privileged to be involved in reading to youngsters last week at our local library in Devon, Alberta.  I sat on the floor reading a book about a flying cow.  My kids are all grown up so I don't get many opportunities to use my expressive reading voice and animal noises very often, but I tapped into them on Thursday and was quite enjoying myself.  Suddenly a delightful five year old stopped me and said, "that's crazy, cows don't fly."  There is nothing like a little dose of reality to distract one from the task at hand.  We both giggled and had a little side conversation before continuing with the flying cow story.  It was crazy.  It was fun.  I had the pleasure of watching a little person be totally engaged in words, pictures, and imaginary happenings.  If you don't have a little person, phone a friend and borrow theirs.  You will be doing your part for the economy.

Read a Book

While you are in the mood to prop up the economy, just pull a book out.  I don't care if it's a physical book or an e-book.  Just get one in front of your eyeballs and put your imagination to work.  Don't worry about whether it's highbrow enough.  Read what interests you. Whatever you do, don't let anyone else give you grief for reading.  Let them know you are contributing to the economy by practicing and possibly increasing your literacy.  

Value It

I was so grateful this morning for the gift of literacy that my parents and countless other influencers in my life contributed to.  When I sat down to blog I ran headlong into computer curses.  My blog site was all white.  Gone were the photos, the headings, and the content.  I confess that my first reaction was sheer panic.  Once the wave of panic passed, I was able to engage in some reasonable thought that led me to search the issue in Google's help forum.  Using my writing skills and my comprehension, I formulated a question that resulted in helpful answers.  Then I scanned the answers for keywords that related to similar issues.  After narrowing down the possibilities, I switched up some settings in the blog guts.  It wasn't quite that fluid or straightforward but I don't think you need the play by play.  You probably don't need to know that there was sweat beading on my brow or that my stomach was flipping over and over and I had a sense of inadequacy that was monumental.  

However, you are reading a blog right now, which means that I managed to overcome what at first seemed to be a monumental problem.  And I overcame it using my literacy skills.  Wow, something that I take for granted every day proved itself extremely useful.  Value your literacy and pay attention to how often you tap into that resource everyday.  You will be amazed when you actually stop to think about it.  Maybe there is something to the idea of promoting literacy as an economic engine.