ARLINGTON, Texas - Shadawn Fisher, a kindergarten English teacher at ILTexas Arlington K-8, knows all too well the importance of helping young students learn how to read.  

“I struggled actually with reading growing up,” she said. “My dad taught me how to read, and it was something at school where no one took the time to sit there and sound out the letters and enunciate."

Fisher stated that finally learning how to read was “the best moment ever” and inspired her to be a teacher.

"I want other kids to have that moment as well.” 

September 8 is International Literacy Day, an annual event established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to bring awareness to the lack of literacy around the world and improve efforts to increase it among those most affected. According to their site, an estimated 771 million people worldwide lack basic reading and writing skills, making literacy, especially among children, all the more important.

“Parents need to start reading to their children as soon as they’re born,” said Dr. Carla Bennett, director of Reading Language Arts at ILTexas. “It builds their literacy skills, helps them with their vocabulary, imagination, and curiosity.”

The theme of this year’s event is “Transforming Literary Spaces” to “rethink the fundamental importance of literacy learning spaces to build resilience and ensure quality, equitable, and inclusive education for all,” according to their website. 

At ILTexas, where students are taught how to read and write in multiple languages, teachers transform their classrooms using decorations, posters, and classroom material to aid in students learning and cultural understanding. 

In kindergarten Spanish teacher Horacio Mercado’s classroom, utilizing letters and sound are how he helps his students process words in another language. 

“You start with a picture, then you give it a sound, and then that sound has a proper word that goes with it and then you keep showing them as you build and next thing you know, you’ll be able to recognize full sentences,” he said. 

For Dr. Bennett, the best way for students to build their literacy skills is to read whatever is available to them. 

“It can be magazines, it can be a recipe book, it can be a book on how to build a motorcycle,” she said. “Whatever you’re interested in, that’s what you need to be reading because it’s all about the joy of reading.” 

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