The International Literacy Association (ILA), a global advocacy and membership organization dedicated to advancing literacy for all, announced Kellyn Sirach, from Carbondale, Illinois, today as an honoree on its second annual 30 Under 30 list. The list recognizes the next generation of young innovators, advocates and educators who are leading efforts to advance literacy for all, whether in their community or around the world.
Sirach was selected for her unique contribution to advancing literacy through her advocacy for students within a rural community. During the 2015-2016 school year, Sirach served as a 5th-8th grade reading and writing teacher at Booth Elementary School in Enfield, IL. Sirach saw many barriers to literacy in the rural community: no public library, a closet-size school library (literally), no librarian, and middle school students who were reading far below their grade level.
To make literacy a priority at her school, Sirach started by making independent reading front-and-center in her classes. She then formed a book club called The Booth Bookies to serve as literacy advocates, established a student newspaper dedicated to promoting literacy awareness throughout the community, and created a Million Word Club competition to see which grade could read 1 million words first.
This past spring, the Bookies held a grand opening for The Little Free Library in Enfield, which was chartered with $500 raised by the club members. The library houses a variety of diverse books for children, teens, and adults. The goal of the library is to provide quick and easy access for Enfield citizens.
This year’s ILA 30 Under 30 list highlights rising leaders from 12 countries and several sectors. It includes nonprofit leaders, classroom teachers, authors, volunteers, researchers, and social entrepreneurs, each of whom has created and implemented an initiative that has directly improved the quality of literacy instruction or increased access to literacy tools in the classroom, community and/or online.
ILA’s 30 Under 30 honorees are featured in the September/October issue of Literacy Today, ILA’s bi-monthly magazine, which published today. ILA will continue to highlight the inspiring work of the honorees throughout the year. They will also be invited to participate in upcoming global literacy community activities that support the shared cause of advancing literacy for all.
To view the Literacy Today feature and the full list of honorees, visit literacyworldwide.org/30under30.

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