Literacy in the United States of America
If you ever get the chance to visit my parents' home, one of the main things you will notice is the massive amount of books. There are books everywhere—on shelves, coffee tables, night stands, etc. I grew up around books from various genres and authors from different walks of life. Since childhood, my family also frequented public libraries for leisure reading, as well as research projects and group assignments. Consequently, reading has always been a passion of mine and by extension, writing.
Nevertheless, when I started my career journey after university, I realized that many individuals do not share that same passion for reading. I believe that the disinterest is due to lack of opportunity and ability rather than lack of desire. While there may be libraries in their communities, some people do not have an unction to visit them due to feelings of inferiority or intimidation. Some individuals grow up in homes with illiterate guardians and attend schools where literacy is not encouraged. I know it may be hard to admit but there are many schools in America where teaching does not occur and where educators serve as daytime childcare providers. As someone who works in education, it pains me to state that fact. However, I will say that the problems with education in America are caused by many factors; therefore blame should not be placed primarily on teachers.
Anyways, the point of this article is to acknowledge that there is a dire need for increased literacy among our children, teenagers, and young adults. The promotion of literacy has to begin in our communities (in other words, outside of schools). I put the emphasis on community because as I previously stated some parents also stand to benefit from literacy programs. Many parents attended the same elementary and secondary schools as their children and suffered from the lack of quality curricula. A community based literacy program could strengthen entire families.
Despite the issues highlighted in this post, there is a silver lining. The good news is that many people have responded to this challenge via grassroots efforts. Over the past year, a host of book clubs and book drives have been initiated. I love these concepts because they cause people to come together to trade knowledge and understanding. This type of trade enhances the value of a community. I would love to see more educators commit to volunteer efforts, e.g. teaching a free writing class once a week, hosting reading events, or tutoring adult learners. I would love avid readers to nourish that love among family members, whether it be from elders to children or vice versa.
Literacy is power. For a long time, some people were not allowed access to that power or authority. I want as many of us as possible to continue to draw attention to this problem and combat it every way we can for the benefit of present and future generations.
QOTD: What are you doing to increase literacy within your family and/or within your community? Share your responses in the comment section below!