Left Unread

27 April 2023

Words unread are lives unlived

Literacy is a light that guides children as they grow. The power of words provides answers, insight, and directions on the ways of the world. But for one in five Albertans who have faced literacy challenges since childhood, these all important words are left unread, leaving many of life’s best experiences left unknown. Little experiences like reading a ridiculous meme — and big experiences like finishing school. The pattern of words left unread slowly turns into a person with a life unlived, and all those chances untaken. Like the chance to read the offer for that big promotion. Or to write down your innermost thoughts. We want all children to have those chances. The chance for a life lived to the fullest. We want no child to be left unread.


of children who do not overcome early literacy problems struggle throughout their life

1 million

Canadian children have below grade-level reading skills

1 in 5

Albertans face daily literacy challenges

A Solvable Problem

Literacy is one factor that has a huge impact on a person’s ability to navigate life, find employment, secure housing, and access services. Left Unread is a movement creating urgency around the importance of investing in and understanding early learning and literacy in Alberta. It’s something that affects the future of Alberta, and it requires attention.


We need to better understand how our children are doing and that means data. Most of the available literacy and education data is more than five years old. We need new data and for it to be updated regularly.


Education and literacy need funding. Funding for preschool and grade school teachers, early interventions and support for children not meeting milestones, and funding to enable access to books and libraries.


To improve the quality of literacy-related instruction in Canadian classrooms and childcare facilities, we need teacher preparation and ongoing development, early childhood standards of care and policies and compensation to reduce turnover and burnout.

But we need so much more than policymakers to step up. We need you! Spread the words with us and help everyone move to care about literacy. Whether you’re an organization with links to literacy, a convener of a local book club, a local or big business, or an individual that believes reading is a core skill, you have a part to play in pushing for change.

A book that no one can read

More than five millions Canadians struggle with literacy. It's an issue that's correlated with anxiety, depression, justice system issues and health, but many Canadians don't know it's a problem. Left Unread is sounding the alarm and to raise awareness, we created a book that no one can read. Wondering what "A book no one can read" means? Check out this video.

How You Can Help

Left Unread is a movement declaring that our children deserve the opportunity to realize their full potential. Low literacy in childhood is not acceptable. If we work together to fill our communities with that message — we can finally fill our children’s world with words. Here are some great ways to get started:

  • Read to a child in your life
  • Be a reading role model, read yourself and mentor others
  • Put books in a Free Little Library
  • Visit a Library
  • Tell a friend in real life or on social media that you care about literacy.

We’re rallying a community of changemakers to advocate for investing in early learning and literacy. And we’ve got tools to help!

These guides can help you engage with government officials.

The Case for Literacy in Alberta

Left Unread is a movement emphasizing the importance of childhood literacy, declaring that our children deserve the opportunity to realize their full potential. The movement leverages data from a report from the Canada West Foundation to make evidence-based recommendations to the community and policymakers all with the goal of advancing childhood literacy. As we work together to fill our communities with the message, no child will be Left Unread.