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  • Writer's pictureJohn Corcoran

The Joy of Loving Reading: Literacy’s Essential Role | SXSW EDU 2024

I recently returned from Austin, TX, where our team was in attendance at SXSW EDU 2024 for a featured screening of The Truth About Reading. In addition to sharing our film at the prestigious event, we also enjoyed attending various other sessions alongside fellow educators, learners, advocates and innovators.

A stand-out session for me was the Butterfly In The Sky screening. The feel-good film highlights the story of the beloved PBS children’s series “Reading Rainbow” and its iconic host LeVar Burton. I’ve been a superfan of Burton’s since the 90s and the documentary was a heartwarming trip down memory lane for many in the room, myself included.

Unlike our film, Butterfly In The Sky is not about teaching reading, but about teaching the love of reading, a unique and beautiful task in itself. The message spoke straight to my heart, validating my lifetime of literacy advocacy and the work we continue to do at JCF. When the credits rolled and the audience swelled in a standing ovation, I rose to my feet, filled with inspiration. What a beautiful gift it is to discover a love of reading.

But as the session wrapped up and I walked out of the theater, one thought rang in my mind: If you can’t read, you can’t love reading.

I spent decades of my life surrounded by books, surrounded by words I couldn’t read, these worlds ever out of my reach. I didn’t have the opportunity to love reading until the age of 48, when I was finally given the explicit reading instruction I needed. Learning to read changed my life and opened up the world to me.

Reading is a beautiful, powerful, and absolutely vital tool. But there are still millions of Americans who don’t have access to this tool, who are still suffering from illiteracy and subliteracy. It’s time for us to have a laser-like focus on teaching children, teens, and adults to read. 


Here at JCF, we just launched a new grassroots advocacy and awareness movement: the Million Viewer Campaign. We’re recruiting dedicated literacy champions like you to help us reach administrators, legislators, and other community members with The Truth About Reading and tell them that it’s time to wake up to the illiteracy crisis. We need your help.

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