MVHS English Department

Once you learn to read, you will be forever free

Why Literacy?

Our answer to the first question was straightforward: If knowledge is power, then literacy is the key to the kingdom. For centuries, the ability to read and write has given power to those who possessed it, although access to book learning — indeed, to books themselves — was often limited to a privileged minority (Vincent, 2000). Today, by contrast, we inhabit a digital age in which written texts are more widely and democratically available than ever before. A prerequisite for access, however, is still the ability to comprehend and appraise those texts. Individuals who lack strong skills for finding, understanding, and evaluating written information cannot easily arm themselves with that information or use it to advance the causes they value. And because a free society depends on an informed and autonomous citizenry, the loss is not theirs alone. As we confront some of the great questions of our time — about war and diplomacy, immigration and citizenship, health care and human rights, and fair access to education and employment — literacy liberates us from dependence on received wisdom and allows us to find and weigh the evidence ourselves. Simply put, literacy is a cornerstone of our freedom.


Ippolito, Steele, and Sampson, 2008. Why Adolescent Literacy Matters Now. Harvard Educational Review

The best candy shop a child can be left alone in is the library - Maya Angelou

Literacy is the most basic currency of the knowledge economy. - President Barack Obama

Writing is the painting of the voice - Voltaire