Last year, I had the honour of being guest speaker at the Hamilton Literacy Council AGM. This wonderful organization provides one on one tutoring to adults in Hamilton who don't know how to read. The teachers are marvelous. They are mostly volunteers.
theme for the AGM was all about wishes. Dream Big. And so the staff came up with a brilliant idea for centrepieces
for the AGM. Each table had a crystal globe in the centre of it, like a
snow globe. Each globe had a different note inserted into the middle.
And on the note was the dream of one of the students from the literacy
I picked up the globe on my table. The note inside it read:
"I want to work in a store someday."
I felt my throat constrict. My eyes started to tear.
of us worked in stores when we are in high school or college. It was our
'starter job' - the one we can't wait to leave after graduation from
school to get the better job for which we trained. I remember working
at a mega grocery store. Eight hours on my feet, unrelenting noise, and
lots of lifting. I was so grateful to leave it.
thought about our student who wrote that note. What she wanted most in
the world was to become literate so she could work in a store.
she couldn't work there now. She couldn't read labels. She couldn't
read sales slips. Most stores have computers. She couldn't read the
text on the computer screen.
She couldn't even fill in the application form to work there.
has always been a cause dear to my heart. I write a series of crime
books for adult literacy students who are reaching the advanced
certificate stage. I donate all the proceeds from my book launches to
the literacy council. But at the AGM, this student opened my eyes and
reached my heart.
In our society, we expect everyone to be able to read. Jobs today require it.
my life, I have imagined how sad it would be to be unable to read a
book. Imagine how it would feel to be unable to fill out a job
My fervent wish this Christmas is the gift
of literacy for everyone. May everyone in my town, Hamilton, and my
country, Canada, be able to read. May everyone in the world have the
chance to learn, and may teachers and tutors everywhere continue to make
Merry Christmas to all.