On October 27, 1998, I attended a lecture given by one of the great contributors to literacy in our society. He was an insightful and energetic speaker. He related his talk to teachers, professors, parents and students. It seemed as though everyone, on every level, enjoyed his presentation.
There were three main ideas in his literacy presentation. The first was the most emphasized: the importance of parents speaking to their children. The second theme was the importance of positive affirmations from parents to children. The third theme emphasized how important reading for fun, in school is for children.
Trelease displayed literacy statistics during the lecture that confirmed what we might expect. Children who are exposed to language and literacy at an early age have a much higher rate of success. The statistics also showed that parents with education beyond high school had children who had a better chance of achieving success. They also showed that children exposed to a lesser vocabulary (as opposed to children with more educated parents) did not succeed, relatively speaking.
Trelease also spoke of drop out rates. He stated that as a result of doing poorly in the area of reading, some children would have to be “held back,” in their education. Children held back more than once have over a 75% chance of dropping out. Children held back only once have only about a 30% chance of dropping out of school.
Jim Trelease emphasized an important point for all to consider. He pointed out a bit of common sense. We can improve our children’s chance of success simply by talking to them. We can increase a child’s literacy level simply by talking to him/her. Finally, we can boost a child’s self image simply by talking to him or her (positively).
Although Trelease made some excellent, even obvious statements, I’m not sure how well everyone at the session connected with all of his ideas. I would like to think every parent there made a strong and profound connection with the literacy information presented. However, the rational part of me knows that if Trelease reached only half the members of the audience, then his job was well done.
I felt compelled to remember his words. Literacy is not an enormous task, but life without it can cause vast unforeseen consequences. Talk to your child and begin reading books at an early age. Parents who have a positive attitude towards reading raise children with a positive attitude toward reading.