Introduction To Literacy
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According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, literacy can be been defined as the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. As an individual is introduced to the concept of literacy, it becomes evident that the scope of what 'literacy' means has expanded beyond the ability to simply write and read. An individual must possess the capability to interpret written and verbal communication while discerning the meaning of the content simultaneously. Paulo Freire who was honored by the UNESCO stated that a viable way to introduce literacy to an individual is through cultural actions relevant to the learner. Freire thought it best to encourage the learner to question why things are the way they are and to formulate a way that the individual could make it better.
As more research and findings were developed over the years, literacy included the concept of "basic learning needs" which allowed cross over into the education of children, youth and adults. Through the introduction of literacy programs, there is a positive impact on the following:
- Literacy helps a society's health
- Population growth
- Literacy reduces social conflict overall
Over the years, literacy has expanded to include information technology and communication technology, as well as critical literacy. With each expansion comes more knowledge and understanding further validating that literacy is fluid.
The problem of illiteracy in the United States has grown to epidemic proportions. As noted by one author, "Literacy is not merely a problem now; it is a crisis. Improving literacy is not just an educational or social need, it is essential if the United States is to compete in the new global economy. Clearly what this data suggests is that literacy is a substantial problem that must be addressed such that the United States can effectively compete on both a national and international level.
While the problem of illiteracy is easily delineated, the question of how to resolve this issue remains a pervasive concern. Numerous literacy programs have been developed, showing notable progress for improving literacy. For instance, literacy programs for children adults and second language learners have all be constructed with some degree of efficiency for improving literacy outcomes. While each of the programs is different, each involves a critical element that must be considered in the context of literacy education: reading. With this in mind, this literature review explores what has been noted about reading in the context of improving literacy. The central argument is that by increasing children's access to books in the home and the school, educators could promote higher literacy rates overall.