Black History Month always brings welcomed suggestions of books related to the black experience, and this year was no different. But this month I was also struck by a Qcitymetro post from Read Charlotte, citing that only 40% of Charlotte students were reading at grade level by the end of third grade. The news for black kids — 19% for boys, 30% for girls.
I can’t imagine growing up without the love-gift of reading. Even if I somehow could set aside the benefit of learning to read (and reading to learn) to career and life success, I would still see life as less meaningful, joyful and wondrous without the ability to enter other worlds through books.
I don’t remember my parents stressing reading in particular, but they always — and I mean every damn day — stressed the need for my siblings and me to get a good education. They brooked no excuses for not doing well in school. I can’t count the number of times we were told, “Your only job is to go to school and do your best.” By “best” they meant get “A’s” or have a good reason why not.
But I digress.
Here’s the good news. We all can reverse this trend, say the good folks at Read Charlotte who have been researching and testing programs aimed at increasing reading proficiency early — birth to 5 years old and K-3rd grade. And everybody can pitch in (read about the Commit To 80 campaign).
The best news: “The simplest way to improve reading proficiency is by reading with a child, which helps build vocabulary, language, and comprehension skills,” said Munro Richardson, Executive Director of Read Charlotte. Studies show that 85% of a child’s brain development occurs by age 5.
This means I (and you) can just cuddle up with a niece or nephew, or a friend’s child, and do what I love best — read a book. And have them read and talk to me about the book.
It will be good for them and for us all in the long run.
Here’s one of those welcomed reading lists that showed up a couple of weeks ago in my Facebook feed — it’s all about the children.
I have yet to read any of these books, but a quick search on Amazon.com for the first book on the list brought up a slew of them — all with 4.5 stars or better from people who say they have read them. (I bought and read the Young Readers version of “Hidden Figures” last year before seeing the movie, then passed it on to my niece.) Do your research and figure out which ones you want to experience with the children in your life — then check your local library.
More good reads in 2018 on the black experience
For avid readers, The Root shared a mind-humming month-by-month list of African American works being released this year. The list, in and of itself, is well worth the read even if you can’t get to one of the books for awhile. Considering the buzz around the “Black Panther” movie, fans may want to keep their eyes peeled for two releases in June:
• Nnedi Okorafor becomes the newest writer to settle into Wakanda with Black Panther: Long Live the King.
• Ta-Nehisi Coates’ wonderful Black Panther Book 5: Avengers of the New World, Part 2 is sure to excite fans everywhere.
And what am I reading? Thank you for asking.
The stack of library books by the bed are all mystery/adventure/thrillers – good for the hour before lights out. For the times when I need to really engage and feel deeply, I’m catching up with a longtime favorite, Ntozake Shange, and on my black-lit history, thanks to a piece from The New Yorker on William Kelley.
Happy reading, everybody!
#blackhistorymonth #readingisfundamental #eachoneteachone