Most people accept that literacy is important and not just for economic reasons: it’s impossible to function fully in our society without being able to master the written word. Yet deficits in literacy seem to be pervasive even in rich countries like Ireland. Recognising the problem, the new Minister for Education, Ruairi Quinn, has taken the initiative by increasing the amount of time that children will spend in school that is devoted to literacy.
And then there is the Dolly Parton way. Many people think of Dolly as a rather colourful, buxom country and western singer and occasional actress. Well she is that but she is also very active in encouraging education and literacy, drawing on her own background in rural – and very poor – Tennessee. One program that she started is Dolly’s Imagination Library. This started in 1996 in Sevier County, Tenn, where Dolly comes from and home to the Dollywood themepark located in Sevierville/Pigeon Forge. The program works in a community: each child gets an age appropriate book every month, from birth to age five. The program has expanded widely in the United States and just recently has started in Rotherham, England. This BBC Radio 4 broadcast tells the story. Wouldn’t it be great if someone took up the cause in Ireland?
And for no particular reason here is a photograph of the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains near Sevierville, the view only slightly spoiled by me & taken during a very enjoyable visit in 2010.