If you took to the streets one day to find out how people define literacy, chances are you would get a lot of different answers. Literacy is one of those terms that at first seems straightforward, but as pointed out by Keefe and Copeland (2011), asking people to define literacy “deceptively suggests simplicity, but instead opens up a world of complexity” (p. 92).

Because there are so many different ways people think about literacy, it is worthwhile to examine some ideas associated with it. For example, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO, 2009-2014) has discussed literacy not just in reference to teaching practices in U.S. schools but in reference to the meaning of literacy across the world. Two key components to their description are that literacy is a “fundamental human right” and is the “foundation for lifelong learning” (para. 1).