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Literacy Matters

According to ProLiteracy research, only 29% of adults over the age of 16 read at an 8th grade level. 1 out of 36 million American adults cannot read well enough to complete a job application. Results also states low literacy rates are linked to poverty, unemployment, crime, and higher health care costs. 

The month of October is literacy month. I decided to start a Literacy Matters campaign in the state of Florida to encourage and inspire our youth to be lifelong learners by developing a love for reading and writing. As a former educator, it was heart breaking to see that my average 10th grade students read on a 3rd to 5th grade reading level. I was perplexed on how we, as a society, allowed this to happen. When did it become cool to be dumb? When did it become cool to be uneducated when for years our ancestors fought for this same privilege we take for granted? Reading and writing is to the brain what exercise is to our bodies. Reading and writing are skills and all skills take time to develop. As a basketball player, I spent countless hours in practice developing my skills. But, it was the hours I spent at the park with my brothers and in front of my house dribbling the ball that made me an elite basketball player. My talents and gifts had to be developed into skills. Reading and writing is the only way to develop other soft skills, which helps produce successful people. How can you bake a cake without reading the recipe? How can you put together new furniture if you don’t know how to read the instructions? In the 2009-10 agency statistics of the Florida Department of Corrections, close to 75% of the inmates in the state of Florida do not have a high school diploma. Literacy is important because it not only makes you a better reader and writer, literacy helps you make better decisions. Being able to think critically and make critical decisions comes from your brain’s ability to process and think rationally. The more you read and write, the more you can communicate effectively. In this digital age, it is essential for you to know how to read and write to understand the information you are receiving. Yes, you can find out how to do anything on YouTube or you can just Google it, but what will you do with the information once you receive it? Understanding the instructions and how to execute them is important. As a Christian, we must read the Bible to gain deeper understanding of what it means to be a Christian. If we don’t know where to look for the answers, we run the risk of always receiving the wrong answer. Knowledge is obtained, and skills are developed. I challenge you to believe in your strength and invest in your weakness. Reading, writing & arithmetic are the educational foundation of many of the great civilizations like the Egyptians who built the pyramids that lasted over 1,000 years. Computers won’t replace books, they just place books on the computer for you to read. Even in a digital age, you cannot buy a car or house without reading the lease or deed. Literacy Matters! 

Author Shennette Sparkes would love to come read to your students! Her book Training With A Purpose is designed to help young readers develop the heart of a champion. She recently spoke to students at area schools in the southern part of Florida October 8th thru the 12th. Email if you would like Ms. Sparkes to come empower your students #LiteracyMatters


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