Sunday, October 13, 2013

Life, Literacy, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Literacy changes lives. It opens doors, encourages connections, shrinks the world and expands it. Literacy empowers. As parents, we beam with elation when our children grasp their first toy, when they utter their first nearly word-like string of sounds: their first step, their first real word, their first joke. Then later, when our sons and daughters recognize their first letter, their first word- when they start to recognize that those jumbled strings of sounds can be turned into strings of letters, and that someone can then leave a message for someone else to read later, for anyone else to read later, that elation grows.
In many ways, literacy is the bedrock of our culture. We teach our children through that magnificent written word, and use written words to communicate at nearly every level of daily exchange. It has grown from the height of rarity and privilege to the fulcrum of our lives. The written word defines and instructs. We even build temples to the written word, where librarian priests oversee the ritual of borrowing words and maintaining order, while instructing the next generation in the catechism- I will respect library books, I will read with my eyes, not my jelly sandwich, not my markers, not my scissors, not my shoes.
Because literacy is crucial to success and because literacy empowers, I care about books. I feel passionately about access to books. I care about libraries. I care about books that help people, children and adults, love reading.
Early education programs help promote literacy, as does taking the time to read with a child. The Little Free Library organization creates greater access. A library card can mean the difference between a world that stretches only to the television and a universe filled with limitless permutations of possibility and opportunity. A good book recommendation can make the difference between reading with joy or only as a chore.
Get out there, read with a child. Volunteer with a literacy program- there are adult literacy programs too. Donate a book, help fund or build a LFL in an area where public libraries are scarce. Recommend a good book to someone who is at that point of tension between the difficulty of the words and the value of their content. You are reading this because someone else helped provide the tools for you to learn to read. I am writing this for the same reason. It's our turn.

No comments:

Post a Comment