Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Purposely Said – Dr. Linda F. Beed

It’s A Family Affair

Little Johnny became the apple of Big Johnny’s eye from the moment his head crowned in the delivery suite. Double shifts worked by doting parents of an only child ensured that Little Johnny would have the latest clothing, cars and electronics they deemed necessary for their only child.

Rather than apply for college, Little Johnny sought to follow his father into construction. Workplace ties cut through red tape and placed Little Johnny in the coveted position ahead of seasoned workers. Although physically able to perform backbreaking work, it proved too much for Little Johnny. Frustration led to anger that led to an altercation that landed him in jail.

Fury at the injustice drove Big Johnny to seek justice for his son via the legal system. Pride in self gave them the confidence that retribution was at hand. During the hearing the judge listened carefully to both sides. After thoughtful deliberation she returned to the courtroom. Before rendering her decision, Little Johnny’s parents were summoned to the bench. Furrowed brows over expressive eyes gave no indication of what was to come. Leaning forward the judge asked a simple question: “Why is it that you don’t know that Little Johnny can’t read?”

Little Johnny was not dismissed from the job because he couldn’t do the work. Lack of basic reading skills prevented him from being able to fill out employment forms. If he could not do this, it was too risky to allow him to work on construction sites where reading safety signs can be the difference between life and death.


Stay with me because you know I’m a research junkie. That said, here we go.

2007 data shows that functional illiteracy in the U.S. is growing by about 2 million per year.

Last month we spoke about the wisdom, necessity and advantage of reading to children at an early age. I will go further and reiterate that the family unit is the most impressive influence in the formation of a child’s worldviews and social habits. How the collective unit seeks to utilize their power is crucial.

By the age of four, it is speculated that children in lower socio economic homes have heard approximately 32 million less words than their counterparts residing in more affluent homes.

In spite of what statistics report, there is no need to succumb to them. Young, old, rich or poor individuals have the same opportunity to apprehend and excel at reading. It is a matter of choice. You can choose to be a family that learns together. Do not stress over what is, begin where you are and build out.

Suggested Event – Family Book Club

As a family make a trip the library
Make obtaining or renewing the library card a celebrated event
Form a family book club
Allow each member an opportunity to host the family book club
Books can be identical or you can choose books on the same subject, but on the reading level of the reader
At the appointed time gather together to discuss the selected book(s)
Give respect to each person’s contribution

How to turn the gathering into extended learning sessions

Allow those who are willing to give an oral synopsis of the featured read
Add a spelling list (no more than three words) and give prizes or special privileges for those who can spell and correctly give the definition
Create family achievement badges/certificates with a family crest to be given at certain intervals (they will be wonderful keepsakes)

By making reading a family affair we establish the importance of education. It also gives our children confidence and allows them (and us) to embrace possibilities beyond the confines of their immediate environment. Opening the floor to oral presentations and discussions allows parents the opportunity to observe the preferences, mindset and talents of their children. These revelations often lead to the discovery of purpose.

In closing, I encourage us to make reading a family affair; more than that, a tradition to be handed down from generation to generation.

Until next time, remember—Purposely Said words can destroy or create a life. Linda!

Dr. Linda Beed is an educator, speaker, children’s minister and author of Business Unusual. She co-moderators BWChristianLit, maintains its sister online blog and is the Review Editor for KDGospel Media Magazine.

You can find her on the web at:

lindabeed.com / MySpace / On Assignment Reviews / BWChristianLit

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