Reading matters because love. Read last post if you don’t know what I’m talking about. Don’t worry, it’s short.
We want our kids to be literate because we love them. What does literacy mean? At first glance, we think of literacy as being able to read and write. And certainly, that’s it’s primary form. Ideally, we want to raise people who can read and write ANYTHING and understand it. I think literacy is bigger than we generally define it.
Oh, how I do love categories. Let’s put literacy into some tidy little buckets. FYI, just made this up, it’s for my own understanding really. I make stuff up all the time.
Personal literacy would refer to the adept ability to read and write. Of course, literacy always has an age appropriateness, so literate at the age of four would be different than at the age of 12 or 25 or 54. Literacy is a continuum. We are always learning new words, new ways to use them, nuances and subtleties of language. Ideally, we are always challenging ourselves with language and literature that helps us grow. Even at 25 or 54. Personal literacy would parallel “the grammatical stage” – the collection and sorting of facts. In this case, the facts about letters, sounds, words, structure and meaning. We give the gift of personal literacy every time we sit down and read to our children. We share language with them and we model its richness and purpose for them.
Comprehensive literacy is an understanding of the world and they way things are. Technically, a person could go without learning to read and write (without having personal literacy) and still have a strong comprehensive literacy, if they were a keen observer of life in other ways. When we read aloud to our kids, we discuss the important questions of what we are reading: Who, Why, Where, When, What, How. We ask, discuss, puzzle out, look things up, find error, find truth. Reading aloud to your children prepares them to understand the world. The history and geography, the ways of life, how plants grow, how water gathers and disperses, how humans function in community, why people write books. Whenever we sit down with our kids, and crack open a book, story book, science book, novel…it doesn’t matter. They questions are there, ready to be asked and discussed. This comprehensive or global type of literacy is the “life schooling” that is so valuable and fuels the brain. This is no accident, comprehensive literacy is something we form our children in every day of their lives.
Evidential literacy might be compared to the rhetorical stage of development. To be literate in the light of gathering information, reading or listening with a critical bent, for flaws or false arguments. It’s taking all those facts, and all the data from personal and comprehensive literacy and using them for the betterment of oneself or betterment of a subject or a culture even. It’s being able to consider opinions and facts, form our own opinions and express them with clarity, charity and truth. Developing literacy in this way, our literacy becomes “evident” by our ability to express our thoughts and opinions with awareness of our own biases, and the biases of others. This literacy takes more practice. As parents, tackling the big questions, being willing to discuss problems, different view points, not being afraid of taking a good hard look at our own tendencies and prejudices is how we help to form literate people. The discovery of truth together.
If your truth is, in fact, true –
you have nothing to fear by tackling the big questions.
That, my friends, is what we should be working towards when we talk about “literacy.”