Would you believe that 40 percent of fourth graders in the United States fail to achieve basic levels of reading proficiency? Or that 775 million adults and 122 million children around the world are unable to read? With International Literacy Day happening next week, Peace Fund founder Adrian Paul and our co-host and producer Ethan Dettenmaier examine the vital need for early language and literacy development, break down the factors keeping 67 million children ages 5-9 from attending schools around the globe, and expose the direct connection of illiteracy to poverty on today’s show.
And as it is with any challenge, heroes rise to turn the tide. One such champion for children is one of our previous Heroes of the Week, 19-year-old Adele Taylor, who founded Adele’s Literacy Library in 2008 when she was only 13. Adele joined us by phone today to explain how she distributes thousands upon thousands of books to children around the world and to speak about her various programs and projects, including the construction of the Greystone Learning Center in Kenya and the 4,000 books it provides to the kids there via revolutionary solar-powered kiosks.
It was an honor for me to be able to speak to the vibrant and eloquent Adele after all the times I’ve mentioned A.L.L. on the show. She was a fantastic interview, and I hope we can have her on again soon.
We also talked briefly about how Pen Africa, Alyssa’s Bedtime Stories, Spread the Words, First Book, and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library contribute to children’s literacy. And we remembered Kervens, one of the Haitian orphans cared for by our friends at Mercy & Sharing, who passed away this week at age 15. As tragic as the death of a young person is, Mercy & Sharing gave him 13 years of warm meals and medical care that he’d otherwise never have received, and his laughter brought joy and inspiration to the other children they care for at their village. Our deepest condolences go out to his friends, to his family, and to the entire M&S team.
Today’s topic also allowed me to reminisce a bit about all the times my mom would read me that “Millions of years ago, dinosaurs ruled the world” book when I was little. I dedicate my involvement with this show entirely to her, and I still can’t believe I get to do this. Thank you again, Adrian and Ethan, for allowing me to tag along every week!