08/09/2023 (Staff Post - Alan McNiven )

Books. How does that word make you feel? For me it’s a comforting word as it conjures up images of second-hand book shops, sitting in a comfy chair, and libraries…

I’m always happy when I’m looking around a library. When I go on holiday anywhere I always try to seek out the local public one. Sometimes they’re grand, civic buildings filled with the treasures of the town and sometimes they’re small community spaces with lots of children’s art on the walls. But most of them are havens and all of them have books. 

Reading for me is a comfort - somewhere to go when things are far from perfect and an escape from the everyday. When travelling – by train especially – a good book provides a shorter route to my destination because as the chapters quickly pass so do the stations. The thought of not having access to books or being able to easily read from them is not a happy one for me. Fortunately, books continue to be widely available, and technology has expanded the ways we can access them, whether through physical copies, e-books, or audiobooks. This perhaps helps ensure that the comfort and escape books offer remain accessible to many more people than ever before. However, despite this increased accessibility the benefits many of us get from books will still be denied to some.

Today is International Literacy Day, and even with global efforts to improve literacy rates, challenges persist with an estimated 763 million young people and adults still lacking fundamental literacy skills as of 2020. Recent crises, notably the COVID-19 pandemic, appear to have compounded these already daunting challenges.

Of course, literacy is not just about books and reading; it is a foundational skill that empowers individuals to adapt, learn, and engage meaningfully in a wide range of social activities. Ensuring that activities are accessible from a literacy perspective is crucial for breaking down social barriers and addressing the social determinants of health. Where we can improve the access to our activities, we can aim to improve the social literacy of those who attend - and that can be a catalyst for broader positive social change.

For further info on #LiteracyDay see here:


And with it being #LiteracyDay may I recommend reading ‘Bowie, Bolan & the Brooklyn Boy’ by Tony Visconti…or something else you might like…

All the best


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