Children’s Literacy: So Much to Learn, So Much to Lose

Jared Cacace, Staff Writer

Literature has existed in many different forms, places, and time periods. From Cuneiform on clay tablets in Ancient Mesopotamia to the olden English laid upon the Constitution that protects many of the freedoms we so dearly cherish in this country, written language is a vital cornerstone to any civilization. In a nutshell, literature is a big part of who we are. In fact, it is likely you have encountered it in the past 24 hours, whether it be an enthralling novel or the back of your cereal box. It’s also pretty important for you to know how to understand the literature we stumble upon in our lives and how to write it too.

It is of the utmost importance that children develop their literacy skills and are able to comprehend the literature that is thrown at them daily. In order for a child to understand, and hopefully enjoy, reading literature without inherently liking it, they most likely will need to find some aspect of a specific book or novel that they gravitate towards. Whether this be about sports, science fiction, or history is up to them, but it should NEVER be smothered. If we do not allow our youth an opportunity to explore the extent of what reading can truly give to them, both inside the classroom and out of it, and the vast variety that is available, they may not see any reason to implore reading as a pastime outside of the school day. A teacher could attempt to make the argument that as long as it is endorsed by the parents or guardians in the home, such as reading to your children frequently, that they will eventually find a love for reading and thus be on their way to developing strong literacy skills. While this may be the case for some children, we must keep in mind that in an ever changing society that has made dual working family systems more prominent as well as the advancements in mobile entertainment and smart devices, this is easier said than done.

This isn’t even the extent of the barricades either, with more coming from the educational establishment itself. Because of updates to English curriculums there now appears to be much more emphasis on other aspects involving deeper analysis of texts rather than simply reading for pleasure. Although these advanced skills should be welcome additions, it is of the essence that these are taught in tandem with reading for the joy of it.

Having a large chunk of our youth void of a yearning for literature could yield negative consequences later on in life. According to Page Ahead Children’s Literacy, lack of basic literacy can be accompanied by academic failure and even greater consequences later on in life such as substance abuse, unemployment, and welfare dependence. Of course, these will not occur all of the time, but lacking literacy skills can be an extremely slippery slope, one that most cannot afford to go down. So please, keep in mind the importance of just having fun with a good book when you have a free moment with your child or when planning some lessons for your classroom. This may not be a prominent issue in your school at the moment, but in time, the educational system bigwigs may lose sight of a fundamental aspect of literacy development. And as I hope I have made it abundantly clear, this could be one of the biggest injustices that the educational system could possibly produce.