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World Book Day 2019: Easy Reading activities at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina

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© Bibliotheca Alexandrina
23 April 2019

‘In these turbulent times, books embody the diversity of human ingenuity, giving shape to the wealth of human experience, expressing the search for meaning and expression we all share, that drive all societies forward. Books help weave humanity together as a single family, holding a past in common, a history and heritage, to craft a destiny that is shared, where all voices are heard in the great chorus of human aspiration.’ — Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO

In 1995, UNESCO designated 23 April ‘World Book Day’, noting the significance of this date for literature; both Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare died on 23 April 1616. It is a day to highlight the power of books to advance positive change for everyone – especially people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Even today, books are not accessible to everyone, especially not to those who have limited reading abilities. Libraries are key drivers in ensuring that everyone has access to books and to basic literacy and learning opportunities. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Egypt, for example, recently established an Easy Reading Section, which caters for learners and graduates of literacy and adult education classes, readers whose first language is not Arabic, or people who have dyslexia.

Books stocked in the Easy Reading Section are in Arabic, using simple language that can be understood by users with very limited or challenged reading abilities. The Easy Reading collection consists of 130 books, divided into three levels. Beginner-level books contain no more than four lines of text per page. To help with the pronunciation of words, they feature manually added diacritics. In the second and intermediate level, up to 50 per cent of the book pages are filled with words, with diacritics provided as well. The final level is for advanced reading practice, offering common books that have no more than 100 pages. To encourage graduates of adult literacy classes to use the section, free library membership is available for them once they have received an official literacy certificate. The library also offers monthly reading sessions in cooperation with (governmental and non-governmental) providers of adult literacy classes.

The subject matters which can be explored in the Easy Reading Section include health, social and civil awareness, general knowledge on Egyptian history and heritage, information about world countries and cultures, and practical instructions for developing skills in the fields of home economics, small projects and crafts, manual work and computers. Initiatives like ‘Easy Reading at Bibliotheca Alexandrina’ help to make literature accessible to everyone.

Further information is available on the ‘Easy Reading at Bibliotheca Alexandrina’ page on Facebook.

Bibliotheca Alexandrina is among more than 100 information centres and libraries forming the Adult Learning Documentation and Information Network (ALADIN) of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) and benefitted from its support during the project. 

‘In these turbulent times, books embody the diversity of human ingenuity, giving shape to the wealth of human experience, expressing the search for meaning and expression we all share, that drive all societies forward. Books help weave humanity together as a single family, holding a past in common, a history and heritage, to craft a destiny that is shared, where all voices are heard in the great chorus of human aspiration.’ — Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO

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