Recognizing the importance of literacy in a digital world


Charlotte Burchetta '22

People in the United States celebrate National Young Readers Week November 11 through November 15.

The Center for the Book in the Library of Congress founded National Young Readers Week in collaboration with Pizza Hut.  November 11 through November 15 marks the celebratory week, according to  Ms. Olivia Tompkins, Upper School Librarian, encourages Sacred Heart Greenwich students to celebrate National Young Readers Week by educating themselves on the importance of media literacy in today’s world. 

Hoping to instill an appreciation for reading in children, the Library of Congress issued the Year of the Young Readers in November of 1988.  The research library also helped pass the Public Law 100-662, according to  This initiative stated that the president should encourage parents, administrators, librarians, government officials, and organizations to observe a year in honor of young readers, according to  Former President Ronald Reagan declared 1989 as the first Young Readers Year.  Pizza Hut and the Library of Congress sponsored this recognition and created National Young Readers Day and National Young Readers Week, which both take place annually.

Reading at a young age benefits a person both academically and socially, according to  Charlotte Burchetta ’22

Studies demonstrate that reading for pleasure benefits children academically, individually, and socially.  Reading also aids mental health and wellbeing, according to  The Pori Drwy Stori Nursery (PDSN) is a bilingual program in the United Kingdom that aims to improve oracy levels in children through reading.  Oracy encompasses speaking, listening, discussion, and collaboration skills, according to 

However, young people often consider reading a chore as they think it is challenging, boring, or pointless, according to  Many people perceive the act of going to the library, searching for a book, and then sifting through the information as tedious.  The accessibility of the internet makes it more desirable because it is fast and practical while physical books seemingly take time away from productivity.  With access to the ultimate research resource, Google, anyone can find information immediately.  Although the efficiency levels increase, the accuracy and precision of internet sources often decrease. 

Experts claim that the issue with online texts is that there are many unreliable sources.  Deceitful news that originates from social media spreads rapidly, reaching a broad audience.  Hence, the importance of educating young people about media literacy is evident.  Digital literacy is an umbrella term that ranges from reading an online newspaper to fact-checking sources.  Almost everything people do online in terms of the creation of information involves media literary skills.

Ms. Tompkins became interested in the concept of media literacy while attending grad school at Drexel University.  While studying to receive a Master of Library & Information Science, she took part in a pilot course on digital literacy.  The course discussed the importance of becoming digitally literate and the methods to use when teaching this skill to others. 

Ms. Tompkins acknowledges that many people receive news from social media platforms.  She believes that it is important to analyze sources and their qualifications. 

“A lot of people are getting [news] only from Facebook or conspiracy theories,” Ms. Tompkins said.  “[Media literacy] is just knowing that there are issues so then you can do the critical thinking such as research and fact-checking the credibility of sources.”

When online, it is important to be aware of the six elements of the media.  Courtesy of

Research shows that education on determining the validity of hyperlinks and choosing relevant websites is beneficial for both children and adults, and requires the same skills as offline learning.  Obstacles to technological intelligence and digital literacy include an absence of trained educators and a lack of accessibility to adequate technology, according to

Still, young people spend extended periods of time online.  This raises the question of how to keep students engaged and along the appropriate pathways.  Ms. Tompkins suggests incorporating media education within one’s pre-existing realm of interests. 

“Start with something you enjoy.  There are so many different information types,” Ms. Tompkins said.  “For example, podcasts are a good, small way to keep you engaged which is very helpful.”

Featured Image by Charlotte Burchetta ’22