Why Does Literacy Matter?

One topic that you’ll undoubtedly hear, if you hang around the shop long enough, is literacy.

We’ve written blogs on it.  We’ve spoken at cons about it.  We push it often.  Why?

Literacy is a foundational skill. Like any other skill, it has to be developed, grown, and challenged in order to improve and provide use.  My wife is currently teaching our 4 year old daughter how to tie her shoes. It requires dexterity, coordination, and TONS of patience.  But, the intent is that, with continued practice and time, it will become second nature to our Little Middle.

Unlike tying shoes, however, literacy is a skill that is vital for functioning as a fully-formed human, and sadly, it is a skill that is evading a large number of kids in our area.

The definition of literacy includes the ability to read, write, comprehend, and gain useful knowledge.  This means that we have to be able to not only read well, but take that information and synthesize it into something beneficial.  Medication labels, microwave dinners, power tools, you name it, all require you to be able to read and put the information to use.

Take a look at this infographic.

the-importance-of-reading-infographic

And this one.

prison

So how do we get kids to love reading?  How do we get kids to want to read?? Give them books of ALL sorts.  We need to put books in kids’ hands that speak to them and get them excited.  If they show an interest in something, get them books about that subject.  If your kid loves history, get them books about history.  If your kid loves weather, get them books about how weather works.  If they love the super hero movies that come out on a quarterly basis, get them comic books!

When a kid finds something that excites them and makes them want to read, even if it’s “above” their reading level, they’ll find a way to read it.

Read with your KIDS!  This is vital.  Spend time reading with them and having them read to you.  Let them see YOU reading.  When kids see mom and dad bringing home new books and stocking the home with stuff to read, it promotes the importance of reading in their eyes.  Get down in the floor with your little and crack open some of your favorite comics and show them how the panels work. Show them your excitement for the characters and it’ll become contagious.

Read-graphic (1)

Our shop keeps lots of the most popular young reader titles in stock: everything from Dog Man to Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Smile.  We also have tons of older comics that they can stock up on for a buck a piece.

What is the main take-away?  Make books a priority for your littles.  Make time to read with them, and for them to have solo reading time.

In short, read often and read a variety of material and make sure that it is fun and exciting.  Your kids will thank you for it later on and you’ll help improve the future for them and our community.

 

Keep Kids OFF Comics!! 4 Reasons that Comics Can Ruin Your Child

We are the Villains Against Comics League.

Our goal is to promote non-reading and illiteracy, primarily focusing on the plague that is COMIC BOOKS.

Let’s look at the facts:

  1. Comic books have been shown time and time again to increase a child’s desire to read.  As their desire to read increases, so does their vocabulary and their confidence in literacy.  As their literacy increases (especially by grade 3), the child is at greater risk for becoming a NON FELON and staying out of the prison system.  This is intolerable.
  2. Comic books can be a GATEWAY into the “enlightening” world of ART.  Children that read comics can be in danger of falling into a creative lifestyle of paint, sketching, color, and who knows what else.  Being an artist leaves little room for developing evil plans as a criminal mastermind. Creative arts aren’t nearly as lucrative as ransoming the Earth’s population for trillions of dollars at the threat of erupting every volcano simultaneously.  Can a starving artist really pay for your nursing home care?
  3. Comic books can teach empathy, compassion, differing views, and a whole host of noble qualities.  What parent wants to raise a child that sees sacrifice for the greater good and standing up for the little guy as characteristics to strive for??
  4. Lastly, and most hurtful; comic books have villainized an entire people group… Villains.  We villains are tired of being foiled and having our misfortune publicized for all to see.  Not only do we have to suffer the bitterness of defeat on a constant basis, but our lowest points are published on a regular basis for all ages to see. Every Wednesday new comics arrive at comics shops across the country and, every week, we are harassed and embarrassed.  It’s like getting punched in the face by Batman over and over.

 

So, fellow villains and vile parents, let us take a stand here and now and say a loud NO to the comic industry!  We will not stand by any longer and allow our bad names to be made public for all to see.  We will not stand by and let YOUR kids become literate and upstanding citizens.  We will not allow the comic giants to shove their propaganda in the face of our youth any longer.

-Villains Against Comics League

#stopcomicsnow #keepkidsoffcomics #vacl

Want to Improve our Community? Make Reading a Priority.

Reading is a vital component of being a productive member of society, but seems to be oft overlooked in favor of other pursuits.  I will spare you from the enormous amount of research available, but I will hit on some of the main points that must be addressed if we want to see our local and national communities thrive.

Take-aways:

  1. 3rd Grade is vital
  2. Stop forcing kids to read “the classics”
  3. 85% of children in juvenile detention are functionally low literate.
  4. Hopes of college can be squashed by 3rd grade.

So why is 3rd grade so important?  It’s important because it has shown to be a crossroad of sorts.  Curriculum tends to switch by the time fourth grade rolls around.  Fourth grade can tend to focus more heavily on math. This means that students that were struggling with developing their reading skills, if they are not confident in them, will really be left behind as math is now the main focus for the next few years.  It is kind of assumed that the child can now read, so let’s leave that subject and move on. The implication is that a child who is not currently at a 3rd grade reading level by the time 3rd grade rolls around, the child will have a significant disadvantage in growing in the ability.

Check out what the Reading Foundation has to say about the importance of 3rd grade literacy:

Reading is the most crucial academic skill because it is the foundation for learning. Through third grade children are learning to read; after third grade students read to learn. … In fact, one of the most important predictors of graduating from high school is reading proficiently by the end of third grade. 

So, if a student is unable to read well by the third grade, imagine how hard it will be to continue to learn new topics as the child gets into upper grades.  The child will be at a perpetual disadvantage with a very strong possibility of dropping out.  Highschool dropouts are 3.5 times more likely to be arrested and 47-63% probability of incarceration.

There is some compelling data that states that most people that are incarcerated have a low 6th grade reading level: some studies site it as possibly even a 3rd grade level. One could conclude that a child’s life course is set by grade 3. This is both frightening and sobering.

What does all this mean?

It means that we need to meet kids where they are and to pursue them with urgency.  It means that maybe we should open up to different types of literary works and stop forcing kids to read as punishment and out of obligations to the classic approach to engaging literature.  Maybe we should ease up on making kids read “classic” novels that have no bearing on their current lives and interests.

There is a ton of research out there that shows the benefits of getting comics into the classroom.  Kids love and need comics.  If you think that kids today are too fast paced and too engaged in there games and phones to care about comics, I challenge you to put a comic in their hands, or better yet sit down and enjoy it with them.

It starts at home.

Find stories that your kids love and then READ to them from an early age.  It helps to develop a love of hearing stories which can then translate in to the love of reading stories.  Fill your home with book and let your kids see you reading.  Share you love of comics and graphic novels with them.  Lay down in the floor and read the newest issue of Batman with them.  As I’ve mentioned before, get a stack of your comics and leave them in your kid’s room.

Don’t force reading and don’t make it an obligation.  We want kids to see reading as fun and something that they want to do! Reward reading! Get creative with the rewards.

As part of our shop’s mission, we hope to improve the lives of kids in our area by helping them develop this vital ability.  Our loyal friends that support us also support our mission because every purchase made at The HIVE helps to put comics in the hands of the kids in our school district as we donate books to schools.

Let’s work with our teachers, schools, and librarians to make some much needed changes and continue to invest in the future of our children.

-matt

sites for more info:

the relationship between incarceration and low literacy

research confirms importance of 3rd grade reading

why is 3rd grade most decisive