September 8th is International Literacy Day, a day designated by UNESCO to showcase the far-reaching importance of literacy in our lives. It is an opportunity for everyone to celebrate the full power, purpose, and potential that literacy offers—in the classroom, in the library, and in the world. 

For nearly six decades, UNESCO has designated a new theme each year that focuses on specific aspects of improving literacy. This year’s theme is “Promoting literacy for a world in transition: Building the foundation for sustainable and peaceful societies.” The goal for this theme is twofold: to boost progress toward making education accessible to everyone, and to “reflect on the role of literacy in building more inclusive, peaceful, just, and sustainable societies.”

What is literacy? Well, it’s much more than just the ability to read and write. Literacy is central to the creation of prosperous and peaceful societies and is crucial to what makes us human. Literacy helps us to organize and express our thoughts, build empathy and respect for other viewpoints, and helps us to conjure, capture, and convey ideas. It sharpens our faculties: activating our cognitive potential and unleashing our creativity. Ultimately, what literacy really is, is a powerful tool for good and progress.

Literacy matters

A significant benefit of technology tools—employed by skilled and compassionate educators and reading teachers—is to provide students with the opportunity to build skills and have more equity in their learning journeys. Microsoft Education believes that our literacy tools can help every student become a fluent reader so that they may enjoy success in school, career, and life. This is the mission that guides what we do and the learning tools that we develop.

A suite of powerful literacy tools

A student sitting at a table in school and interacting with the screen on a tablet.

A student using Reading Coach to practice reading independently.

Microsoft Education’s foundational reading fluency and accessibility tools meet the literacy challenges of today’s educators and students. These solutions can help students learn, practice independently to become more fluent readers, and give writing and reading teachers the insights they need to provide individualized support. They also provide students opportunities to practice these skills in non-stigmatizing ways, anytime, anywhere.

  • Immersive Reader: Immersive Reader is designed to improve reading comprehension for all students. Available for free in popular classroom applications, Immersive Reader incorporates research principles that increase access and is loaded with features that can read aloud or translate on-screen text. You can customize the learning experience for students, so whether it is reading at a slower pace or providing picture clues without narration, reading teachers can address a variety of activities in the classroom. Discover how every student can improve their skills and comprehension with reading and learning tools like Immersive Reader.

GIF. Selecting the View tab, then clicking on the Immersive Reader button in Microsoft Word for the web.

To get started with Immersive Reader in Word, select the View tab and then click on Immersive Reader.

  • Reading Progress: Integrated seamlessly into Microsoft Teams for Education, Reading Progress simplifies the process of creating, reviewing, and analyzing reading assignments. With Reading Progress students read a passage aloud while recording video and audio, then turn in their recordings to you. Educators and reading teachers can also collect valuable data and visualize both class and individual performance and growth. Insights in Reading Progress offers the ability to easily create personalized challenge assignments, freeing up more time for active instruction. The Milton Area School District (U.S.) uses Reading Progress in Microsoft Teams to track students’ reading skills and focus on areas for improvement. Discover 5 Things to Know About Reading Progress and Reading Coach.

GIF. Reading Progress dashboard in Insights showing a student’s progress, including words per minute, accuracy rate, challenging words, and more.

Reading Progress dashboard in Insights. Educators can collect valuable data and visualize both class and individual performance and growth.

  • Reading Coach: Reading Coach is a tool in Immersive Reader that allows students to practice reading fluency and challenging words across the Microsoft tools they already know and love. And when students are finished practicing, they receive a high-level report to help accelerate their reading education and sharpen their literacy skills. Reading Coach helps build student agency and reading confidence, opening up a world of possibilities. The Philippine Department of Education partnered with Microsoft to incorporate Reading Progress and Reading Coach to help build the language proficiency, reading fluency, pronunciation, and digital literacy of all students. Discover 5 Things to Know About Reading Coach in Immersive Reader.

GIF. Reading Coach in Immersive Reader, showing words to practice.

Reading Coach in Immersive Reader helps students practice and improve their reading fluency.

  • Education Insights: Education Insights supports educators in meeting a student’s unique reading education needs, and it is built right in Microsoft Teams for Education! Education Insights is an analytics solution that automatically connects with key apps to help streamline an educator’s decision-making process and spot students who may be struggling. You can see student activity while spotlighted datapoints help you track your class's activity and growth. Explore how to use data to support your students with Education Insights.

GIF. Scrolling through the class overview page in Insights, which shows a dashboard with data about an entire class.

Class overview page in Education Insights. Scroll through the cards and use the dashboard to quickly see data for an entire class.

Use these Quick Guides for Reading Coach and Immersive Reader to get up and running with these powerful learning tools so that your students can improve their reading skills and comprehension today!

Spread the love of reading

We know that cultivating a love for reading is an important part of your students’ fluency journey. And a great way to spark this joy on International Literacy Day and beyond is to hear from authors of beloved books. Celebrate the power of literacy and nurture your students’ passion for reading by joining Flip’s live and on-demand author events.

Graphic showing a picture of bestselling author Peter H. Reynolds with the words Celebrate International Dot Day on September 15, 2023 with Flip Events.

Cultivate a love for reading by hearing from bestselling author Peter H. Reynolds at Flip’s Celebrate International Dot Day event on September 15, 2023.

Coming up on September 15th, join the Flip Team in a live global celebration of creativity, courage, and collaboration for International Dot Day. In the Celebrate International Dot Day event, students will meet Peter H. Reynolds—New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of The Dot—and his twin brother Paul A. Reynolds who will challenge everyone to believe in themselves and find the courage to “make their mark.”

You can also hear from celebrated actor and author John Cho in a Flip on-demand event. In the event Meet NYT Bestselling Author John Cho, students can hear John discuss his debut middle grade novel, Troublemaker, along with the inspiration behind it and how the book can be used in classrooms and libraries.

Register for Flip’s Celebrate International Dot Day event or watch Flip’s on-demand author events to help spread the love of reading to your students.

Get ready. Get set. Get reading.

As we celebrate International Literacy Day and highlight the critical role of literacy in building sustainable and peaceful societies, we also want to celebrate dynamic educators who help students develop skills and passion for reading with equitable and inclusive literacy practices.

Learn more and get additional information with these great resources!