What would your life be like if you couldn’t read? Could you get a job? Take your medicine? Drive a car? Vote?

Not likely, right?

Reading is not just for pleasure, it’s for survival.

That’s the point of “Do Not Read This”, a provocative International Literacy Day campaign from Room to Read. They challenge us to give up reading for one day–and experience life through the eyes of the millions who can’t read.

International Literacy Day was first proclaimed by UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) on September 8, 1965. UNESCO promotes literacy as a basic human right, as a tool for personal empowerment, and essential for sustainable development.

“Literacy unlocks the door to learning throughout life, is essential to development and health, and opens the way for democratic participation and active citizenship.”
~kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary-General


In 2014, UNESCO reports that globally 781 million people are illiterate–that’s 16 per cent of the world’s population. Most live in developing nations, and most are women.

When someone learns to read, it has a positive effect on that person’s life, their family and their community. According to UNESCO:

  • A child born to a literate woman is twice as likely to survive past age five.
  • If all children in low-income countries left school with basic reading skills, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty.

Do not read this?

The campaign is doing the opposite: getting lots and lots of people to read and write about illiteracy.

And until September 12, every time we share the video on social media, $1 goes towards literacy education.

Other ways to promote literacy? Read to your child, donate a book to your local library or school, write to your politicians about the importance of education and international development, or support a literacy organization at home or abroad.

Oh, and thanks for reading this.



  1. The numbers are still shocking!! And also the relation between literacy and the survival of a child. Reading…the mst important thing after learning to talk and walk. Thank for yet again pointing it out! Hugs from Ohio

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