2019-09-01 - 2019-09-30


  • Start: 2019-09-01
  • End: 2019-09-30
  • Event Category Humanist Action Kit

Celebrate National Literacy Month

September is National Literacy Month, a time to pick up a good book or article and explore new worlds. By helping people gain access to books and reading to and with each other, we can better engage in learning and help people see how their lives, community, and the world beyond are connected.

Useful Dates for September

September 5 International Day of Charity
The International Day of Charity is an international day observed annually on 5 September. It was declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012. The prime purpose of the International Day of Charity is to raise awareness and provide a common platform for charity related activities all over the world for individuals, charitable, philanthropic and volunteer organizations for their own purposes on the local, national, regional and international level.
September 8 International Literacy Day
8 September was declared international literacy day by UNESCO on 26 October 1966 at 14th session of UNESCO’s General Conference. It was celebrated for the first time in 1967. Its aim is to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities, and societies. Celebrations take place in several countries.
September 10 World Suicide Prevention Day
World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD) is an awareness day observed on 10 September every year, in order to provide worldwide commitment and action to prevent suicides, with various activities around the world since 2003.  The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) collaborates with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) to host World Suicide Prevention Day.  In 2011 an estimated 40 countries held awareness events to mark the occasion.  According to WHO’s Mental health Atlas released in 2014, no low-income country reported having a national suicide prevention strategy, while less than 10% of lower-middle-income countries and almost a third of upper-middle and high-income countries had.

On its first event in 2003, the 1999 World Health Organization’s global suicide prevention initiative is mentioned with regards to the main strategy for its implementation, requiring:

  1. “The organization of global, regional and national multi-sectoral activities to increase awareness about suicidal behaviors and how to effectively prevent them.”
  2. “The strengthening of countries’ capabilities to develop and evaluate national policies and plans for suicide prevention.”

As of recent WHO releases, challenges represented by social stigma, the taboo to openly discuss suicide, and low availability of data are still to date obstacles leading to poor data quality for both suicide and suicide attempts: “given the sensitivity of suicide – and the illegality of suicidal behaviour in some countries – it is likely that under-reporting and misclassification are greater problems for suicide than for most other causes of death.”

Suicide has a number of complex and interrelated and underlying contributing factors … that can contribute to the feelings of pain and hopelessness. Having access to means to kill oneself – most typically firearms, medicines and poisons – is also a risk factor.

— Campaign release
September 15 International Day of Democracy
In 2007 the United Nations General Assembly resolved to observe 15 September as the International Day of Democracy—with the purpose of promoting and upholding the principles of democracy—and invited all member states and organizations to commemorate the day in an appropriate manner that contributes to raising public awareness.

The preamble of the resolution affirmed that:

…while democracies share common features, there is no single model of democracy and that democracy does not belong to any country or region…

…democracy is a universal value based on the freely-expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems, and their full participation in all aspects of life.

September 17 Constitution Day
Constitution Day September 17th (or Citizenship Day, formerly observed the third Sunday in May) is an American federal observance that recognizes the adoption of the United States Constitution and those who have become U.S. citizens. It is normally observed on September 17, the day in 1787 that delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the document in Philadelphia.

When Constitution Day falls on a weekend or on another holiday, schools and other institutions observe the holiday on an adjacent weekday.

The law establishing the present holiday was created in 2004 with the passage of an amendment by Senator Robert Byrd to the Omnibus spending bill of 2004.  Before this law was enacted, the holiday was known as “Citizenship Day”. In addition to renaming the holiday “Constitution Day and Citizenship Day,” the act mandates that all publicly funded educational institutions, and all federal agencies, provide educational programming on the history of the American Constitution on that day.  In May 2005, the United States Department of Education announced the enactment of this law and that it would apply to any school receiving federal funds of any kind.

September 19 Ask An Atheist
If you are an atheist, there are a variety of ways you can celebrate the day. You could set up a table on campus—or at another location, if you are not a student—where believers and others can come up to you and ask you questions about atheism, secular living, and your beliefs. You can email the SSA for supplies for your table, such as brochures, stickers, posters, and flyers. You could also wear the stickers and put flyers up on campus (flyers could be put up before the day as well). You could organize an “ask an atheist” panel event, or go on a radio station and have an “ask an atheist” segment where listeners are able to call in and ask you questions about atheism. When posting on social media, use the hashtag #askanatheist. For more about the day and how to participate, take a look at the Ask An Atheist Day Activity Guide. If you aren’t an atheist, you can celebrate the day by asking an atheist about their beliefs! The day is meant to be filled with respectful dialogue, so make sure to participate in such a way, no matter if you are an atheist or the person asking questions.  Checkiday.com
September 21 Autumn Equinox
The September equinox (or Southward equinox) is the moment when the Sun appears to cross the celestial equator, heading southward. Due to differences between the calendar year and the tropical year, the September equinox can occur at any time from September 21 to 24.

At the equinox, the Sun as viewed from the Equator rises due east and sets due west. Before the Southward equinox, the Sun rises and sets more northerly, and afterwards, it rises and sets more southerly.

The equinox may be taken to mark the end of summer and the beginning of autumn (autumnal equinox) in the Northern Hemisphere, while marking the end of winter and the start of spring (vernal equinox) in the Southern Hemisphere.

September 21 International Day of Peace
The International Day of Peace, sometimes unofficially known as World Peace Day, is a United Nations-sanctioned holiday observed annually on 21 September. It is dedicated to world peace, and specifically the absence of war and violence, such as might be occasioned by a temporary ceasefire in a combat zone for humanitarian aid access. The day was first celebrated in 1981, and is kept by many nations, political groups, military groups, and people. In 2013 the day was dedicated by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to peace education, the key preventive means to reduce war sustainably.

To inaugurate the day, the United Nations Peace Bell is rung at UN Headquarters (in New York City). The bell is cast from coins donated by children from all continents except Africa, and was a gift from the United Nations Association of Japan, as “a reminder of the human cost of war”; the inscription on its side reads, “Long live absolute world peace”.

In recent years, a searchable map of events has been published at un.org.

September 23-29 Banned Books Week
Banned Books Week is an annual awareness campaign promoted by the American Library Association and Amnesty International, that celebrates the freedom to read, draws attention to banned and challenged books, and highlights persecuted individuals.  Held during the last week of September since 1982, the United States campaign “stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them” and the requirement to keep material publicly available so that people can develop their own conclusions and opinions. The international campaign notes individuals “persecuted because of the writings that they produce, circulate or read.” Some of the events that occur during Banned Book Week are The Virtual Read-Out and The First Amendment Film Festival. The 2018 Banned Books Week began on September 23 and ended on September 29.


Create a Little Library
Little libraries are popping up all over in front of people’s houses, schools, and community centers to make it easier for us to share the gift of reading. They offer an opportunity for anyone to add or take a book at their convenience without needing a library card, money, or to be mindful of open hours. You can make one out of a wooden box or cabinet and decorate it as you wish. Your group can make them together to use at home and see if you can keep one by your meeting location. Encourage members to keep the little library stocked and active.

Read to People who are Visually-impaired
Children aren’t the only ones who enjoy having books read to them. Volunteer with a senior center or organization that supports people with visual impairments. Consider choosing a banned or challenged book or one of our Humanist Press publications.

Organize a Book Drive
Support literacy by coordinating or donating to a book drive and help get more books to those who can’t afford them. The American Humanist Association will gladly accept books in good condition on topics pertaining to humanism (also atheism, philosophy, science, social justice) to send to our incarcerated members and prison humanist groups. Please send them to AHA ℅ Emily Newman, Education Coordinator. Or see if there’s a local school or community center for which you can organize a drive.

Invite an Author
Many of the humanists on the American Humanist Association Speakers Bureau have written great books about their work and research. They’d be happy to come talk with your group, sign books, and discuss humanism more deeply. You can organize your group to read and discuss the book first, then invite the author so you can more fully engage in discussion together. Some books come with recommended discussion questions for groups.

Social Media Toolkit

#InternationalLiteracyDay #BannedBooksWeek #LoveToRead

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” ― Frederick Douglass

“People don’t realize how a man’s whole life can be changed by one book.” ― Malcolm X

“Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.” ― Vera Nazarian