Wednesday, January 20, 2016

What I Know About...Literacy

I'm fresh off two literacy events this week - an MLK Day Literacy Fair with other AmeriCorps members and Family Literacy Night at my school - and thinking about what it means to me in my life. To sum it up: a lot.

I know...
  1. Reading with your kids is a super important thing a parent can do, and should be on the same level as providing basic necessities. Kids should be fed and clothed and housed, yes, but reading is a huge part of survival as well.
  2. It both does and doesn't matter what kids are reading. To a point, if a kid is reading, let him/her read. Eventually, though, kids will get bored if the material isn't challenging enough (or if it is out of their league) and then they may fall out of reading altogether. Many of my students tell me they "can't find anything to read" or "aren't interested in anything" when the real issue is they are reading books meant for kids half (or twice) their ages.
  3. How we read does matter. Again, if kids only reads via e-readers or tablets, let them go crazy. However, "the loss of print books and periodicals can have significant repercussions on children's intellectual development." According to this article from the New York Times, libraries weigh more heavily into a child's academics than familial wealth. Having print books around encourages kids to pick them up and  - yep - read!
  4. I'm very lucky to have had the reading experiences I did. Not only do I have parents who read to me and encouraged me to read on my own, my elementary/middle/high schools had vibrant library programs with reading challenges and plenty of librarians/teachers to champion reading as I grew up. Not all kids have that - not all schools have that - so I'm forever grateful and always looking for ways to pay it forward.
Whatever your experience with literacy, if you're on this blog, you're a reader of some sort. Be grateful for the people who made reading enjoyable for you, and help foster that joy in those you know - whether they're students or not.

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