“Literacy is not a luxury, it is a right and a responsibility.”
Literacy starts at infancy and reading is for life. We are forever reading be it messages on a billboard, a menu at a restaurant, ingredients, directions, news, the list continues. Literacy is as necessary as food. Literacy is an introduction to the world, an essential tool to go through life. At early childhood literacy starts with storytelling and the literature at this stage is mainly picture books. While most picture books are entertaining, it’s important to expose children to quality books that expose children to possibilities, develop character and build life skills. This is the opportune time to instil positive behaviour in their fresh minds and teach valuable life lessons. When my children were younger, I chose to read stories that reinforced good behaviour like the popular story of the boy who cried wolf. Moral of that story was that lies break trust and there are consequences. They are now slightly older so we read books that expose them to self-discovery and travel. There are numerous children’s books that teach empathy, acceptance, understanding, forgiveness, generosity, bullying, self-positivity and more.
The importance and role of literacy should never be under-estimated. Learning to read, write and count (cognitive skills) are not enough to succeed professionally or tackle life’s challenges. Life is not a straight line, children need to acquire social skills and tools for their emotional well-being. This is critical for child development as they mature into adults, they are expected to change careers and deal with life challenges throughout their life, to do this confidently they need to know how to learn independently, to communicate, have empathy and be problem solvers. Parents and educators therefore need to provide and expose the youth to rich literature that is •Culturally relevant – narratives that help them embrace who they are and exposure to other cultures as we are now living in a global village •Biographies of Great Leaders and Influencers – this can have a profound influence on them to develop and shape their character, inspiring them to do even greater things and •Financial literature – to open and teach them on creating money, managing money and growing money which are fundamental life skills.
We as parents have a big role to play and we must lead by example, parents must become readers. We have to encourage our children to read for pleasure, it’s not a chore or just for school. It has been proved that reading for pleasure significantly improves literacy skills and a range of other skills that result in successful life outcomes. Literacy as a skill or tool has no limits and is essential for survival.