Learning begins with literacy. When we can master the written word, we can engage with a world far beyond our immediate environment and in doing so mobilize the resources and inspiration needed to control our own lives and to change the lives of those around us.

From the instructions on a medicine bottle, to bus schedules, and election ballots, our ability to read and write opens doors and creates opportunity. Now, more than ever, literacy is a gateway to participation in an increasingly global society, it is a way to good health, informed parenting, economic sufficiency, political voice, and achieving our dreams.

Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky as to learn to read and write. In the world today, nearly 1 billion adults are illiterate.

Of those individuals, the vast majority is female and lives in low and middle-income countries. As we seek to shift structural injustices and interrupt generational poverty, literacy can unlock the potential of future generations to create a better world.

Promoting literacy is a diverse and interdisciplinary effort. We know now that one of the most important activities for building the knowledge required for eventual success in literacy is reading aloud to children. Reading Village programs go one step further. Not only do we get kids reading and facilitate literacy-building opportunities, we keep students in school to leverage this literacy for academic achievement and eventual employment. By doing so, Reading Village programs begin with literacy, foster learning, and aspire to impact quality of life across the villages in which we work.