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News | August 21, 2013

Literacy and Meatballs? The Perfect Ingredients for International Literacy Day


It’s time to start planning your celebration of International Literacy Day (ILD)!


Initiated in 1965 by UNESCO, the day was created to focus attention on worldwide literacy needs. Typically celebrated on September 8, the International Reading Association (IRA) is observing ILD on Monday, September 9 this year to increase participation from schools and libraries. This year’s theme, “Invent Your Future,” focuses on the importance of literacy in preparing students for the workplace. According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, about 40% of employers indicated that they were dissatisfied with high school graduates’ ability to read and understand complicated materials, think analytically, and solve real-world problems. In fact, the issue stems much earlier, with more than 8 million students in grades 4–12 reading below grade level.


Even more concerning is the undeniable relationship between illiteracy and poverty. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, workers 18 and over with a high school diploma earn $27,915; those without a high school diploma average $18,734. Further, the 25 fastest-growing professions have greater-than-average literacy demands, while the fastest-declining professions have lower-than-average literacy demands, as reported by the Alliance for Excellent Education.


In light of these compelling statistics, it is urgent that individuals and organizations throughout the world renew their efforts to promote literacy and teach the literacy skills that will prepare today’s youth for the employment demands of the future. The 2013 ILD celebration does just that! Educators, parents, librarians, and organizations come together to celebrate the opportunities that await students and to inspire them to dream big about their futures.

ILD Logo

So where do meatballs come in? This year, IRA has partnered with Sony Pictures to develop a free website providing educational activities for International Literacy Day, in anticipation of Sony’s release of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (coming to theaters on Sept 27). Flint Lockwood, the main character of the movie dreams of being a great inventor, and we want to inspire students to dream just as big!


Here’s the scoop on all the goodies you can find on the Invent Your Future website:

  • Celebration Activities for Ages 5–18 (Event Kit PDF): Find lesson plans and activities related to the theme “Invent Your Future” to help plan your own ILD celebration on September 9. Or ask your students to decide how to celebrate ILD. By doing so, they’ll automatically become more invested in the day’s activities!

  • Activity Kit screen

  • Social Media Kit: Help us spread the word about ILD, and share how you celebrate the day on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (using our official hashtag #ILD13), or by e-mailing us at ILD@reading.org.

  • Freebies: Register to receive a free copy of the book Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs to add to your classroom or school library (limited quantities), and free Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 movie posters and activity books.

  • Contest: Enter to win a tablet for your classroom simply by sharing how you celebrated ILD. You’re celebrating anyway, and it’s a simple process to submit. Hope you win! [Rules and regulations are provided.]

  • Just for Fun: Print bookmarks and coloring pages to share with your students.

  • Twitter Chat: Join us on Monday, September 9, at 8 PM EST for IRA’s ILD Tweet Chat. Use #ILD13 to join the conversation.

Now that you’ve got all the ingredients for your ILD celebration, go ahead and mix up some fun activities that reinforce the value of literacy and how strong literacy skills pave the pathway to success---not only in the classroom but also in the workplace.


And remember to keep literacy a high priority throughout the entire school year. The International Reading Association is here if you need a helping hand.

IRA Logo



Alliance for Excellent Education. (2011). Fact sheet: Adolescent literacy. Retrieved from http://www.all4ed.org/files/AdolescentLiteracyFactSheet.pdf

U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, The Nation’s Report Card: Reading 2009 (NCES 2010458) (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2010); U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, The Nation’s Report Card: Reading 2011 (NCES 2012457) (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2011).

U.S. Department of Labor. (n.d.). Why America needs an educated and prepared workforce. Retrieved from http://www.doleta.gov/budget/docs/1_Why_America_needs_07.pdf