If you’re reading this one thing is certain: You can read. That gives you an advantage over several million people in the world and at least two American presidents. You’re lucky because the cliché is true: education really is one of the routes out of poverty. You can give people a lift. Or a map. Or lend them a car, in book form. Maybe Christine. The car’s a metaphor, see. Or you could give them a metaphorical bike, which is more environmentally friendly. You should give people books, that’s the point here.
The UN reckons there are still about a billion children and adults struggling with literacy and access to education, and seeing the knock-on effects of under-employment, under-informed diet and nutrition, poor health and the rest of the illiteracy/poverty extravaganza. That’s true in developing countries, where access to education can come second to staying alive, and in industrialised countries, where literacy limits employment and other opportunities. That’s shit. Here’s what we can do about it:
Research invented by me for the Marie Kondo Institute suggests for every book owned and re-read we probably own two more that we’ll only read once or never get to. They can do more good off our shelves and out in the world, where they’ll get to people who’ll actually make use of them. We can donate books to community libraries and charity shops to make them more accessible to people on lower incomes. We can donate them to prison libraries, where trusted custodians can plan redemptive breakouts. We can send them to Better World Books, who’ll flog them to raise money for literacy projects, or send them overseas with the likes of Books2Africa. We can give solid cash to international literacy organisations like World Literacy Foundation, Give A Book or Book Aid International to save postage, support local economies, raise up local authors and ensure people read culturally relevant texts and not just a bunch of privileged first world shit written by whitey. And we can volunteer in schools as one-to-one readers, helping children struggling with literacy and teachers struggling to make time for them.
We’ll share a bunch of knowledge and imagination, to be turned into potentially life-changing changables. Give a dictionary to a literacy group and turn someone into a teacher. Give an anatomy textbook and turn someone into a doctor. Give a Marian Keyes book and turn someone into a self-obsessed 30-something looking for love in all the wrong places and spouting big-knicker cliché like it’s original. Your bookcase, your cash and you can be the routes out of poverty. Go do something smart with them.
Be Book Smart
You could change a life
And change the world
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