Gutenberg's printing press necessitated the spread of literacy during a period when only the rich and fortunate could afford expensive texts. Roughly 500 years on and one would think illiteracy is a thing of the past, yet this is not so.
Around the world the rate of illiteracy is still startling, it is not limited to Third World countries, although illiteracy seem to be more prevalent there. My own father is not exempt. At age 73 he still struggles to read, but he tries, even though his efforts are heartbreaking...and I am ashamed to admit, annoying at times, because like so many others I take the gift of literacy for granted.
As authors, creators of content, weavers of fantasy and romance I feel we have a personal responsibility to help eradicate illiteracy. In today's world one cannot survive without the ability to read. The internet, the paper, the books we write and even our shopping requires us to be literate. There is not one activity in our normal lives that doesn't require us to read. So should we not ensure that others can go about their daily lives without having to guess by the picture on the package if the product in their hands are soap or fabric softener? Could you imagine living in a world when you are so utterly shut out and blinded?
As authors, we should do something. After all it would be to our benefit as well. Higher rates of literacy means more potential readers. Throwing money at the problem is out of the question. Money cannot solve a problem, especially when the problem so desperately requires human involvement and commitment.
I feel it is time we as authors give back. Either through our time or by providing free resources. Even if you just donate one book to a child in need, or raise awareness for a reading campaign in your area. It is the small efforts that eventually make big changes.
Let's make illiteracy a thing of the past by paying it forward.