Sharon from the LITCAM

Last week I represented the United States at the Frankfurt Book Fair Literacy Campaign Conference (LITCAM) in Frankfurt, Germany. Though the name of the conference is quite a mouthful, I had such a wonderful time! The purpose of the conference was to draw attention to the need to improve literacy around the world; it also was a showcase of excellent practices currently taking place.

While the United States and NCFL are making strides to increase literacy across the country, I was humbled by how much we have to learn.

For instance, Ireland has recently launched a multimedia effort for adult learners. The effort is centered around Written Off, a reality television series that highlights the issue of literacy, where adult learners go off to an intensive eight-week course in the mountains to improve their literacy skills. The most exciting part of this initiative is viewers who are interested in improving their own skills can call and be matched with a literacy tutor in their area. What a great way to reach people!

Another country to look to is Turkey. Representatives presented findings from a 20-year study that followed 3-year-olds in family literacy programs until the present day. Talk about some rich data!

But the world is still looking at NCFL as a leader in the family literacy movement. I spoke specifically about our work with the indigenous population (notably our FACE Program) and our groundbreaking work with the immigrant population (the Toyota Family Literacy Program) since many European countries are struggling to address the needs of their own immigrant and indigenous populations. NCFL is also on the cutting edge with our technology-based training through Verizon’s Thinkfinity.

This conference had such an enriching atmosphere — no competition on who is achieving the most, but instead a global approach that can go across cultures. The literacy problems here in America are similar to those in Turkey, Ireland and even remote Africa. And conferences like this highlight that when we share best practices and approaches, we can work to improve the literacy crisis on a global (and local) level.

— Sharon Darling