Published on
07 September 2020

Tuesday September 8 is International Literacy Day!

This yearly event helps raise awareness about literacy problems that exist both around the world and in our own communities. 

Literacy is the ability to read and write, and is a fundamental part of daily life. Founded by UNESCO in 1966, the goal of the day was “to remind the public of the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human rights.” Without being able to read or write, people cannot read books, menus, voting ballots, instructions, food labels, medicine labels - the list goes on. It is a crucial aspect of being able to live a safe, free and empowered life. 

The day is an opportunity to think about the fact that many do not having the same privileges, explore how you can contribute to stamping out illiteracy, as well as be grateful for the parents, grandparents, siblings, teachers and others who invested their time to help us learn to read and write when we were young.

Activities and ideas

International Literacy Day is a great opportunity to talk to your child about their reading and writing skills. With around 770 million adults and young people lacking the basic skills to read or write, UNESCO’s focus is on recognising the difference in literacy across the world. You could ask your child to imagine what their life would be like if they couldn’t read or write. How would they know what signs said, or what their teacher was writing on the board? Could they imagine finishing school or getting a job? What would it mean for their day to day life? 

With school returning after such a long time away, it is a good time to help them to remember that going to school is a privilege, and that the adventures they can go on in books, or the interesting facts they are learning every day, aren’t available to everyone.

For fun activities, you could:

  • Ask them to review their favourite books
  • Start writing their own story 
  • Read a book together
  • Design book covers or bookmarks
  • Create a find a word about their favourite book
  • Talk to them about your favourite book
  • Donate books to local schools, nurseries or shelters
  • Explore Barnardo’s staff Goodreads picks, 75 of our favourite books for children and teenagers


This Literacy Day, we have partnered with Yoto, the audio platform for kids, to celebrate their new mindfulness content.  

Mindfulness means focussing on your current thoughts, feelings, how your body feels and what is around you. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts focus on what we're sensing right now, rather than going over past events or imagining the future. When practiced in childhood, mindfulness can help with mental health, stress management, concentration, emotional learning and behaviour.

Since we went into lockdown things like being cooped up at home and not being able to go to school or regularly see their friends, plus anxiety about family members’ health, have led to more children being reported to have developed mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress. 

Yoto has teamed up with leading teachers and authors to create mindfulness content for children aged 0-8 years old. The stories are guided meditations that help young listeners start out on a journey of mindfulness, helping children to relax and increase feelings of happiness and contentment. 

Yoto will be donating £1 from every Mindfulness card sold from their UK website for the rest of the year. The Yoto player is available to buy from, and the Mindfulness cards available for £4.99.