Reading is Fundamental

When I was little, I always heard that “reading is fundamental” and I often wondered fundamental to what???  It is fundamental to everything that we do in every aspect of our lives.  Here are some great quotes about reading:

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” — Frederick Douglass

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.” — Jacqueline Kennedy

“The ability to read awoke inside me some long dormant craving to be mentally alive.”
— The Autobiography of Malcolm X, 1964

“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.”
— Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

As a child, I was an avid reader to the point of reading under the covers with a flashlight when I was in bed.  My parents, thank God, did not try to quench my desire to read but they had one requirement – I had to still get out of bed on time the next morning.  Oftentimes, when I would start a new book, I couldn’t put it down until I finished and that led to some long nights and tired next days.  In hindsight, I consider myself blessed to have had some awesome school teachers that furthered my love of reading and broadened my horizons by their choice of books. 

My PoliSci professor further enhanced reading by making it a requirement to read 3 newspapers (New York Times, Washington Post, and Baltimore Sun) before arriving at his 9:00 a.m. class.  Quizzes came from the newspaper and you still had to take the quiz even if you decided to arrive late that day for some reason.  🙂

As a homeschool mom, I am now passing on my love of reading to my children.  I am using The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading and it is an excellent resource.  It is easy to follow and laid out well and my daughter is reading short “a” sentences.  The look on her face when she gets to the period at the end of the sentence is sheer joy and happiness.  As parents, we further her love and her younger brothers by making sure that books are all around them and having ready laps when they want to read to us or have us read to them.  Of course, their reading the book to us is often quite entertaining.

Like the quote from Frederick Douglass, reading does lead to freedom.  On Sunday, while watching a PBS special on the roots of some well-known African-Americans by Dr. Henry Gates, he was tracing the lineage of Whoopi Goldberg and her ancestors took advantage of the Homestead Act after the abolition of slavery to acquire land in Florida.  One requirement was the completion of the application which if completed correctly indicated that you, a former slave, had learned to read which could lead to your death.  Amazingly, her family was able to hold onto their land through many struggles not mentioned here but it underscores the importance of literacy.

Before marriage, I did some tutoring in Washington, DC and it broke my heart to tutor teens that were not able to read at grade level.  Their lack of literacy also stunted their dreams of their future and they all to readily accepted the fact that they would not go on to graduate and become lawyers, doctors, entrepreneurs they were content with trying to make it or trying to be the next LeBron James. 

For so many of our ancestors, equal access to quality education was worth fighting for and yet even with equal access our children are suffering to get the basics – reading, writing and arithmetic.  Without these basics, cycles of poverty, incarceration, drug/alcohol/physical abuse are not going to end but continue until as a people we collectively say that a quality education is worth fighting for….