The Reading Bill of Rights
A Child’s Right to Read
Today we live in a world full of digital information. Yet reading has never been more important, for we know that for young people the ability to read is the door opener to the 21st century: to hold a job, to understand their world, and to know themselves. That is why we are asking you to join our Global Literacy Call to Action. We call this campaign: “Read Every Day. Lead a Better Life.” We are asking parents, teachers, school and business leaders, and the general public to support their children’s right to read for a better life in the digital world of the 21st century.
Here is what we believe about reading in the second decade of the 21st century. We call this The Reading Bill of Rights:
We believe that literacy—the ability to read, write and understand—is the birthright of every child in the world as well as the pathway to succeed in school and to realize a complete life. Young people need to read nonfiction for information to understand their world, and literature for imagination to understand themselves.
We believe that the massive amounts of digital information and images now transmitted daily make it even more important for a young person to know how to analyze, interpret and understand information, to separate fact from opinion, and to have deep respect for logical thinking.
We believe that literature and drama, whether on printed pages, screens, on stage or film, help young people experience the great stories of emotion and action, leading to a deeper understanding of what it means to be truly human. Without this literacy heritage, life lacks meaning, coherence and soul.
We believe every child has a right to a “textual lineage”—a reading and writing autobiography which shows that who you are is in part developed through the stories and information you’ve experienced. This textual lineage will enable all young people to have a reading and writing identity which helps them understand who they are and how they can make their lives better. In short, “You Are What You Read.”
We believe every child should have access to books, magazines, newspapers, computers, e-readers, and text on phones. Whatever way you read, you will need to figure out what the facts are or what the story tells you. No matter how and where you get access to ideas, you will need the skills of reading to understand yourself and your world.
We believe that reading widely and reading fluently will give children the reading stamina to deal with more challenging texts they will meet in college, at work and in everyday life. And every child should be able to choose and own the books they want to read, for that choice builds literacy confidence—the ability to read, write and speak about what they know, what they feel, and who they are.
We believe that every child has the right to a great teacher who will help them learn to read and love to read. Children need teachers who provide intentional, focused instruction to give young people the skills to read and interpret information or understand great stories they will encounter throughout life.
We believe that in the 21st century, the ability to read is necessary not only to succeed but to survive—for the ability to understand information and the power of stories is the key to a life of purpose and meaning.