According to UNESCO, literacy is the “ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate, compute and use printed and written materials associated with varying contexts.” Measuring rates of literacy across populations is one of the most effective ways of assessing a country’s education standards and how it affects populations and productivity.
The World Bank estimates that 84% of the world population 15 and older is literate and some countries, such as Australia, Cuba and Japan, enjoy rates of nearly 100% literacy. On the other end of the spectrum one in three people in Sub-Saharan Africa cannot read, and Africa has the lowest literacy rates in the world.
In the United States less than one percent of the population is illiterate, making literacy rates some of the highest in the world. However, there are concerns about the strength of language arts in public schools and the increasing population of immigrants who do not know English.
The links below include adult, child and ESL literacy programs, worksheets, guides and other helpful resources for teachers, students and parents concerned about literacy.
Adult Literacy Information and Organizations
- Office of Vocational and Adult Education is U.S. department promoting programs to help adults achieve basic skills.
- Council for the Advancement of Adult Literacy
- Pennsylvania State University’s Institute for Adult Literacy
- Pro Literacy works to improve lives through adult literacy.
- American Library Association Outreach Resources for Adult New and Non Readers
Adult Literacy Practical Resources
- Literacy Information and Communication System
- PBS Literacy Link helping adults learn and build practical literacy skills.
- Move On Literacy Test Preparation
Child Literacy Information and Organizations
- American Library Association Early Literacy
- Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy
- Journal of Early Childhood Literacy
- Reading, Literacy and Your Child from the University of Michigan Health System
- Child Literacy Project
- Children’s Literacy Center
- National Center for Family Literacy
Child Literacy Practical Resources
- Center for Early Literacy Learning practice guides for parents
- Nine Easy Ways to Start Forming Good Early Childhood Literacy Habits
- Iowa Libraries Early Childhood Literacy Activities
- Early Childhood Education resources in English, French, German and Spanish
ESL Literacy Information
- Center for Adult English Language Acquisition
- National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy
- American Library Association English Language Learners
ESL Literacy Practical Resources
- ESL Magazine Online
- Internet TESL Journal, including lessons, worksheets, practice and advice from ESL teachers.
- National Clearinghouse for English Language Acquisition
- Activities for ESL Students, includes bilingual quizzes in over 30 languages
- ESL Activities, focused on school aged ESL students.
World Literacy Resources
- World Literacy Foundation
- 2012 World Literacy Summit
- UNESCO Literacy Program
- World Literacy Initiative
General Literacy Information and Facts