I wasn’t always a good reader. That didn’t happen until third grade, when I was tutored in phonics by a teacher who cared. I am ashamed to admit I don’t recall that teacher’s name. But she was the one who started me off on the road to success.
It is my belief that literacy is the answer for eliminating poverty. If a person can read and comprehend, she can learn to do anything she puts her mind to. Literacy is also a tool to bring about an end to gang violence. It is an established fact that many youngsters turn to gangs because of boredom and lack of supervision. Finding identity in good books can help to modify low self-esteem.
Throughout history tyrants have ordered books destroyed because it is easier to dominate an ignorant people than an educated populace.
Contributing to literacy at all levels is worthwhile, but contributing to literacy in the primary grades builds the foundation for creating a new order in society. I won’t site all the statistics that abound to document that poor reading skills contribute to teen pregnancies, juvenile delinquency, and high school dropouts. But I will challenge you personally to do something about it. In the San Francisco Bay Area there exists a group of dedicated volunteers who have answered this challenge. Visit Reading Partners to learn how investing one hour a week can bring about a huge change in a child’s life.
If working with primary school children is not your cup of tea, check out other opportunities at your local school district for teaching English as a second language, or at the nearest juvenile detention facility for an opportunity to assist teenagers pass their GED exam, or at a nearby prison to help prepare prisoners to reenter society and make a worthwhile contribution.
As writers we need to guarantee there will be an audience for books, short stories, essays, and even our blogs. The best way to do this is to make sure there are readers the world over who want to read what we write.