Without literacy…

The good people at Grammarly offered a chance to participate in fundraising for literacy. As a result of this post, Grammarly will make a donation to Reading is Fundamental.

The only thing I have to do is write a piece on the importance of literacy.


Except my first few attempts resulted in seriously boring screeds repeating statistics that the Grammarly team’s already shared. That’s okay, it would still “count.” Then I pondered life without literacy. Not life in general; my life, specifically.

Here’s a list of the experiences I’ve had, things I’ve done, accomplishments and joys, that I wouldn’t have been able to do without the ability to read and write. I left out obvious things like school and jobs. These are the otherwise hidden delights that it’s been my privilege to enjoy.

Without literacy…

  1. No passport application, no passport, no travel to Sofia, Prague, Bratislava, Zurich, London, or Athens – all places I’ve been able to see, walk around, smell, taste, hate, love.
  2. No crossword puzzles. That might seem trivial, but oh, the joy of being able to accomplish something trivial once a day.
  3. No books that haven’t been made into movies, including favorites like A Confederacy of Dunces, The Big Over Easy, The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, Away, and all the Chet & Bernie mysteries.
  4. No “fictionary” – one of the best games we thought we made up as teenagers (pick a random word in the dictionary, everyone makes up a definition except for one person who writes down the real meaning, and one player has to guess which is correct).
  5. No guidebooks – no history of the Joshua Tree State Park, where I spent a magical day this spring.
  6. No reading out loud – one of the most romantic experiences between partners, one of the most delightful experiences with little kids.
  7. No letters to friends and family – and who doesn’t love receiving a real newsy, gossipy, handwritten letter. Or a love letter, one we keep for years.
  8. No National Novel Writing Month – the crazy joy of writing fifty thousand words in thirty days, my first stab at which just turned into my second published novel.
  9. No published novels. Enough said.
  10. No me, really. The written word is such an ingrained part of my mind, soul, and heart, I can’t imagine myself trying to make my way in this world without words as my tool for adventure, expression, and most importantly, connection.

Read more about Grammarly’s campaign here, and celebrate the role of the written word in your life.

2 thoughts on “Without literacy…

  1. Great list! I’ve had to contemplate a world without literacy in my Shredded Orphans books. It makes you rethink every little action. You can’t just read someone’s name tag or even a store name or floor descriptions in an elevator. We take so much of that for granted. How wonderful of you to participate in this. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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