The Foundation that Cried “Wolf!”

Dear Parents and Teachers,

The Literacy Foundation- Words of Hope’s well-known advocacy against illiteracy is not evident in one of their more recent campaigns. The advertisement depicting a decrepit Cinderella is an unnecessary call to action. The monotony and weathered visual characteristics evoke a sense of fear within the, mostly, already literate community that is creating an imaginary literary crisis. The image falsely suggests that there is a lack of literacy in children, therefore, ruining the child’s creativity and imagination. How would a child, let alone anyone, identify the woman in the blue ball gown as Cinderella if there wasn’t a sense of creative literary efforts already instilled in the child?

The Literacy Foundation’s advertisement is essentially contradicting itself because they intentionally used a widely known character and distorted the portrayal of her as if viewers would not automatically associate the woman with Cinderella, based on one’s general level of creativity and imagination.  The image falsely suggests that your kid’s childhood will be tarnished and completely non-existent without the ability to engage creatively when reading. However, reading alone is not the sole contributor to a creative imagination. Math, arts, and sciences are also notable subjects that enhance the creativity of one’s mind. The Literacy Foundation’s notion of a literary crisis is superficial. Why would an image of a sickly Cinderella encourage a child to read anyway? The Literacy Foundation’s advertisement is essentially trying to fix something that isn’t broken.

The image further suggests a false literary crisis because there are no solutions provided in the image that would promote an increase in child literacy rates or enhanced imagination. Since the image does not propose any solutions, such as reading “X” amount of “Y” genres, that further concludes that the “issue at hand” is not an issue at all. The image fails to convey a lack of educational resources, which is the leading cause of illiteracy. Rather than addressing an “issue” the advertisement challenges ones personal imagination when interpreting the image. In the simplest of terms the advertisement is carefully constructed to manipulate parents and teachers to think that they are not properly educating their children, stunting their imagination.

Instead of addressing a real issue, the Literacy Foundation is bullying the parental community to instill a false fear of inadequate education of their children. George Pullman notes, “Bullies make themselves feel good by frightening and humiliating or otherwise putting others down.” (pg.102) More specifically, the Foundation is suggesting an improper “display of learning.” The way in which the image evokes fear is an aggressive an improper use of false superiority. If the organization was addressing a substantial problem would they have to bully the parental community and scare them into thinking their children are at risk of a losing their imagination?




  1. “Literacy Foundation – Words of Hope!” Foundation pour l’alphabétisation, Accessed 16 Sept. 2017.

  1. “Adsarchive.”, Literacy Foundation, Accessed 29

Sept. 2017.

  1. Pullman, George. Persuasion: history, theory, practice. Indianapolis, Hackett Publishing, 2013.




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