I’m going to admit a dirty, little secret a writer should never tell! It will explain why I’m passionate about promoting literacy, which means showing kids that reading can be fun.
But first, why do we even care about reading? I have two burning reasons.
Number 1, these statistics speak of great suffering:
- ♥ 2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare.
- ♥ 85 percent of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate.
- ♥ More than 60 percent of all prison inmates are functionally illiterate.*
If that doesn’t prove that reading opens up the world, then take my story. I could tell you how reading builds empathy as readers visit the minds of others and get to understand people in various situations and beliefs, but I’ll make this personal.
When I arrived at college, I didn’t even know how to read a book. I don’t mean I couldn’t read. I mean I couldn’t sit down and concentrate. All the Nancy Drew books I attempted to read as a kid, I never finished. I still don’t know who dun it.
But something clicked in college where I was faced with a decision to get serious and study, or get a job. I couldn’t waste time and money anymore being wishy washy, lazy and insincere about my education. I realized this was it and I needed to support myself. So, I sat down and read a whole book, with no Cliff Notes, no Wikipedia, no summary. The real thing.
And then something clicked and I read hundreds and hundreds of books. I learned all sorts of things. All subjects. It’s astounding that the wisdom of our civilizations is all recorded for everyone to read. How amazing is that? That we all have access to knowing all about our world and the experience of others. We can learn anything if we can read!
Hook ’em Books
Not only do most kids need to be taught to read but they need to know it can be fun to lose themselves in an imaginary world, and that this imaginary world is more interactive than watching a video because it expands thought, intelligence and communication skills.
But you can’t tell them that. Just hook them with something fun to read. As they build skills, they can read more literary novels than the “hook ’em” books. Classics that endure the passage of time touch something deep within humanity. But pop books get the ball rolling and that’s just as important.
Number 2, when speaking at schools and airshows, many kids were proud to tell me they hated reading. They proclaimed it like a badge of honor. It broke my heart because reading saved me. It expanded my world. It opened up new horizons.
You bet I did a lot of reading to become a pilot!
I wondered what topsy turvy socialization made the kids think hating reading was cool. But I knew the only way to combat this was to give them something that swept them away. It makes me happy to hear kids say they couldn’t put “Circle” down, and they want to read it over and over.
- ♥ Reading: 1 point
- ♥ Video & games: 0
Not that I don’t enjoy movies and games, but as a sole diet, it’s lacking nutrients.
Here’s another motivator nearly everyone loves: Money!
- ♥ “More than 60% of employed proficient readers have jobs in management.” **
Probably because reading builds concentration!
- ♥ “Proficient readers are 2.5 times as likely as basic readers to be earning $850 or more a week.” **
Sign me up. Thanks for reading. And please, give a kid a suffering-prevention “hook ’em” book today!
* National Assessment of Adult Literacy, U.S. Dept of Education
** NEA, The National Endowment of the Arts is a federal agency.