Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Education Lifts Socio-economic Barriers (On a personal note)

I recently had an author ask what motivated me to dedicate my blog to literacy, especially for boys. It got me thinking of why I would want to take the time to research topics, read books for boys, review them, gather author interviews and pay my own money on postage for blog giveaways. I wanted to give the author a simple answer and then realized my motivations are not simple.

I was raised in a working class family, living from paycheck to paycheck. A few instances, my family even received government assistance. My mom never finished high school and my dad barely graduated. Nobody in my family had ever gone to college, no grandparents, no aunts or uncles or siblings. They worked hard, but never got ahead. My parents divorce complicated the picture.

As a child, I had one thing going for me. I was an avid reader. I read every book in sight. I ate up Little House on the Prairie and Amelia Bedelia. I burned flashlight batteries on The Boxcar Children. My parents rarely took me to the library, but we had this Bookmobile that came to our low income neighborhood once or twice a month and I waited for it every time, checking out stacks of books until it would come again. The few books I got as gifts, I treasured and read over and over again.

I remember my dad telling me about the "rich people on the hill that think they are better than everybody else." He convinced me that the people in the next rung of the socioeconomic ladder were snooty and didn't deserve to be there. That somehow they weren't hard workers, but just lucky.

I landed a full ride scholarship to a small two year college and qualified for Pell Grants. I didn't end up graduating until in my thirties, but I never gave up. I married a man with graduate education and moved into a modest home in the type of neighborhood my dad criticized. The first thing I noticed about my neighborhood is that my dad was completely wrong. My neighbors were mostly kind and smart. There were organized book clubs where people talked about ideas instead of other people. I was thrust into a world where those around me were educated. Most of my neighbors were college graduates, many with master's and doctorate degrees. My lesson learned was that the single most important thing in helping one move up the socioeconomic ladder is a good education.

So why a blog about boys and books coming from my background? I learned for myself that reading is the single most important thing in academic success. I also have a daughter and two sons. I saw first hand how the elementary educational system seems to favor girls and watched as boys lagged behind in reading. My son who reads has a huge advantage over my son who doesn't like to read as much. In reading to my boys, I was introduced to books, as a child, I didn't even know existed. Treasure Island and Where The Wild Things Are and then a boy wizard by the name of Harry Potter came along and even my boy that didn't like to read changed his tune. I fell in love with so called "boy" books and haven't been able to put them down since.

So a very personal long answer to a short question. I devote my time to blogging about literacy because I have a passion for it. Nothing could be better than that.


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