UNESCO Director-General Visits Literacy Friendly School in New York
“Reading used to be a punishment for me. Now I have realized that reading takes you to another world and I have learned to love it,” said Christian, a 12th-grade student at New York’s East Side Community High School, during a meeting with UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova on International Literacy Day in New York on 8 September.
Irina Bokova and Laura Bush, honorary ambassador of the United Nations Literacy Decade, visited this school famed for creating a real culture of literacy. Books are stacked into bins everywhere: from the shelves of the Principal’s office to collections in every classroom and a school library stocked with all the latest releases. Even the school’s walls feature quotes by writers from around the world. Every morning children spend half an hour quietly reading a book of their choice. A literacy coach and a librarian help students choose books and work with teachers to support literacy. Book clubs encourage students to read together.
“Literacy is part our school culture,” says Principal Mark Federman. “If you give kids time and choice, they will fall in love with reading. Books build bridges with children and their families.”
The Director-General expressed her admiration for the school’s initiative and the staff’s dedication. “Reading opens new ways of thinking about what type of society we live in. It creates the need to explore and is incredibly important to help become responsible citizens.”
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