I think that one of the best things I ever did as a mom was to teach each of my children to read at a young age. Now, don’t get me wrong: they weren’t little one- or two-year-old phenoms running around reading encyclopedias at one or two years old. But by Kindergarten, they’d passed basic phonics and sight words and were on to simple sentences. And, as I’ve mentioned in a blog before, they all love to read. I can’t tell you how happy that makes me.
So, it’s only fitting that I’d be just as disturbed by the rampant illiteracy plaguing our communities. (Visit this site for a few interesting statistics: Interesting literacy statistics)
A few years ago, the nonprofit I was working with (you know, the day job), started an early childhood initiative. It was in those early strategic meetings that I learned stats like children who are behind in school at third grade almost never catch up. That in our modern cutting-edge-obsessed culture, there are those who can’t complete a job application – in store or online – because they’re rudimentary reading skills are too poor.
And, let’s face it. I don’t care how kids shorthand text messages or bastardize the words on their social networking pages. They need to know how to spell those words “for real” if they expect to survive in tomorrow’s brave new world. Apparently they disagree, though. My son showed me one of his Facebook friends’ latest fan page, something to the effect of, “I hate it when you text to somebody old and they make you spell out the whole word.”
So, the moral of my blog is a suggestion at best. Latch on to a kid and teach him/her to read. Prepare them for a life filled with word problems, subtitles and great novels. Or find an adult who feels utterly lost, but with enough conviction to know that they need to do better. Support their steps by getting them past the reading levels they’ve yet to conquer.
Detroit Public Schools has launched a reading initiative inviting community members to mentor students. There are myriad literacy organizations desperate for eager volunteers to spend a few hours of week doing what they love – reading, and letting someone else in on the fun. Or find a way to help improve the issue through a method of your own – blogging, hosting an event, lobbying your elected officials, etc.
Here are a couple of starting links. For more, head to your favorite search engine and try words like literacy, tutor, volunteer followed by your city. The people you help will remember you (even if you’re a fuzzy subconscious blur), but more importantly – despite the hurdles you might have to surmount – you’ll feel fuzzy, too. Warm and fuzzy.