By Samuel Dickerson
Reading is to the Brain, what Exercise is to the Body.
I am confident that everyone understands the concept of reading. However, the word “fundamental” may require further explanation. According to the Oxford Dictionary, when used as an adjective, it means “forming a necessary base or core; of central importance.” When used as a noun, it means “a central or primary rule or principle on which something is based.” So, we will proceed with the premise that reading is a base or core activity upon which success in life is founded.
Let us take a closer look at the concept of “Reading is Fun-to-da-Mental.” We as humans learn from our environments. It is our environment that stimulates and develops our thoughts. In the 21st century, technology dictates how we communicate and learn. Text messages and emails are the norm. One needs to be computer literate to survive and thrive in the greater society. Technology (computers, smartphones, etc.) is our new methodology for learning. Our communication has become 140 characters or less, and the culture in which we experience life influences our communication.
Identifying and conquering literacy challenges has the potential to transform communities. To solve this dilemma, we must first understand the difference between reading and literacy. Reading can be classified by a person’s interaction with a piece of text or words. To crack the code of reading, the reader must possess the following skills:
- Phonemes – the ability to manipulate letters and sounds.
- Phonics – possess knowledge of the relationship between sounds and letters.
- Vocabulary – understand the meaning and pronunciation of words.
- Fluency – oral reading or accurately reading words quickly.
- Comprehension – the mastery of all previous components to enable reading.
Literacy is the application of reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills to construct meaning. So, to demonstrate literacy, a person must be able to break the code toward making meaning. Today, we have access to tools to help students develop the literacy skills needed for success in life. Parents, as a child’s first teacher, can strengthen reading outcomes. By providing support for students, parents instill in children the love of reading. Parents then partner with elementary schools to help foster the love of reading. As students learn to read, they begin to read to learn.
As students read to learn, the world becomes smaller, allowing access and opportunities for students to live out their dreams. Just as doctors urge adults to strive for a healthier lifestyle, we as caring community members can urge one another to improve reading habits by:
- Securing a library card.
- Carving out time to read and talk about your reading.
- Creating book clubs and reading the same books together.
- Listening to your favorite actor/actress read books. They have a way of bringing books to life!
- Developing partnerships with businesses and local schools, colleges, or universities. Partnerships like these can establish mentor groups for students who need help developing their identity as readers.
Poor attitudes and the lack of motivation and interest are the greatest challenges or barriers to reading for students. However, a community can develop a plan to help students improve their identities as readers.
The Education Committee of The Cleveland Observer will seek the community’s assistance to address the issue of reading and literacy. We hope that you, the community, will join us by helping us foster independence and life-long learning, starting with these six ways to make an impact.
- Know the facts.
- Listen to first-person experiences.
- Support organizations reaching at-risk populations.
- Donate books.
- Volunteer in your own community.
- Lastly, celebrate literacy in your own life.