The last few weeks have been hectic with the Word Cup finals under way, and the Word Cup Cafe under construction. It is not a coincidence that the last day of the Word Cup coincide with International Literacy Day.
Whenever I meet someone with high verbal aptitude (and I enjoyed meeting many over my four years at eSpindle Learning), I like to ask them:
How did it all start?
What made you become interested in language?
When did the reading bug bite, the need to write begin?
To this day, I still have yet to meet someone who would not directly trace the source of their verbal development to a person--a parent, a teacher, a relative--who enticed, encouraged, supported, challenged, acknowledged, and mentored them.
Chances are, you owe your appreciation for language to someone you respected, who invested time and energy introducing you to the World of Words. Who was this person/were these people for you?
The mere fact that you are reading blogs and surfing the internet as a reader likely means that years ago, there was someone who read to you, someone who challenged you to expand your vocabulary, someone who talked with you, who taught you to understand and appreciate nuances and different shades of meaning.
Can you imagine for a moment what would have happened if you had not been gifted with such support? Imagine for a moment that your parents and people around you were illiterate - and I use this term according to Mark Twain's interpretation of it, who said, "the man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can not read them."
You entered school proud and eager, but soon noticed that most kids knew words that you didn't - it was not your fault, but you felt ashamed and scared that you would be found out. You felt embarrassed, like something was "wrong" with you.
Fear and shame made learning words even harder, and sometimes it took you a long frustrating while to decipher simple sentences... you especially hated having to read out loud!! Books were scary, and when texts became too advanced, you tried to hide your panic behind "I don't care" attitudes... your growth stopped, and instead of searching opportunities you spent most of your time escaping problems.
Literacy is not a "hot" nonprofit cause.
It is not headline material like an epidemic disease, it is not gory and violent like war, it is not cute like them polar bears... no: advocating for literacy is nerdy.
It reeks of "schoolmasterness" and dusty books. The problem seems so vast, and the number of more immediate and more dramatic catastrophes so large, that it is easy to forget that many of our problems have their roots in this nearly invisible, inconspicuous cause.
What has literacy given you?
Could you share some of that plenty with the kids in your life?
Could you find the time to volunteer to help someone crack the code?
If you could put a price tag on what literacy has brought to your life - would you find yourself rich enough to share?
Today was the last day of the Word Cup, but we are continuing the literacy fundraising campaign until the end of the year.
Please stop by www.WordCupCafe.org and plant the seed of literacy for someone by making a donation.