Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Literacy Around the World: College Essay Style

*This is basically a filler post but the ideas I touched on in this essay (250 word limit) are ones that I hope to expand upon further on this blog and in the comments section of other people's blogs. I adamantly believe that one of the best ways to increase literacy rates is by having more diversity in literature whether its via a) characters from cultures all over the world, b) translating classics/adult fiction/young adult/childrens books in the native language into English for Western audiences and c)investing in local authors and for publishers to help them foster their talent and create a market for more YA/childrens/adult books in the particular country.

Initially, the room made my bookworm heart swell with joy. The bookshelf was piled with books, there were cozy-looking chairs, but to my dismay all the books at the women’s center were in English. The center is located in San Lucas Toliman, a small town in Guatemala and no one speaks English. I visited this women’s center during my summer service trip to Guatemala. I realized that while it is wonderful to donate books; we need more books written in native languages. In developing countries, writing as a profession is not an option. In countries where people are struggling to meet their basic needs, it is important to develop and preserve their culture through writing. Publishers must encourage and compensate aspiring writers. There are currently few programs in these countries to foster literary talent. By publishing translated works and works by native authors, publishers will expand their outreach and reach new consumers. Children are more likely to be interested in reading a story with a protagonist who shares a similar cultural background which creates a deeper connection.

The literacy organization Room to Read has an excellent initiative known as their Local Language Publishing programs. Its founder John Wood has said “We are seeking the Dr. Seuss of Cambodia.” We need more programs like this to publish and distribute books written in a variety of languages that are easier for children to connect with. We also need more translated books and publishers willing to take on this project by investing a little more money than usual. I love reading and I want everyone else to have the same passion for literature that I do. Reading teaches tolerance and encourages readers to use their imaginations. These qualities will enable our future leaders to think of creative solutions for the problems facing society. I dream of the day when everyone can see their culture reflected within the pages of books and be able to proclaim themselves bibliophiles in their own language.

To see if I got in to a certain school based on this essay, highlight to read (haha): NO =/ But I'll survive. Any recommendations of excellent translated books? Ideas on fun ways to improve literacy around the world?  Am I way off with my ideas? Do tell! I promise I read your comments and reply to them in my head, I just have a hard time remembering to reply online sometimes (: