Watch Live in Support of Literacy

This is a guest post by Gayle Osterberg, director of the Library’s Office of Communications.

On January 31, award-winning author and literacy advocate Stephen King helped the Library launch our annual call for nominations for the Library of Congress Literacy Awards honoring organizations working to promote literacy and reading in the United States and worldwide. Throughout the winter, 18 additional authors, including Kwame Alexander, Ken Burns and Margo Jefferson added their voices of support for the importance of literacy.

This year’s recipients will be announced TONIGHT during the Library of Congress National Book Festival Gala beginning at 7 p.m. Eastern, and you can join us live on the Library’s Facebook page at and our YouTube site (with captions) at

Illiteracy remains an enormous problem around the world. Seven hundred and fifty-eight million adults cannot read or write a simple sentence. Approximately 1 in 3 primary school-age children globally are not learning the basics in reading. In the United States, 65 percent of fourth graders read at or below the basic level.

Each year, thanks to the extraordinary generosity of David M. Rubenstein, the Library of Congress presents three leading organizations with cash awards to support their life-changing work.

Tune in tonight to see which organizations will be honored and to learn more about their inspiring work. Then, consider ways to support literacy promotion in your own home town. For inspiration, a list of previous recipients and additional organizations honored for exhibiting best practices can be found here:

And enjoy some of the inspirational words of authors who participated in this year’s announcement:

Reading gives you an inner life. It helps your imagination. It helps you form your values. It gives you worlds to measure and balances the world you’re in. . . . It sharpens your intelligence . . . every nation, every country needs citizens with values and rich interior lives and imaginations that allow them to move past just themselves.

—Margo Jefferson

We are a country stitched together by words and more importantly their dangerous progeny, ideas.

—Ken Burns

Books are magic. Books make your heart soar, they break your heart, they make it rise again. Books move you, entertain you; they enlighten you.

—Harlan Coben

It’s important that literacy and reading are encouraged by the Library of Congress because reading is the most essential and available skill that people use to realize the American dream.

—Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

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