Transformation is big.
Transformation is not just learning something new. It’s not just adjusting. It’s changing a way of being…in life. Like how caterpillars transform into beautiful butterflies.
Most transformations are triggered by an event—some are huge, others not so much. Some transformation catalysts are even seemingly benign, like literacy.
This concept of transformation is the theme of the 2015 International Literacy Association’s annual conference which begins tomorrow (Friday, July 17) in St. Louis, Missouri. Specifically, the gathering’s focus is “Literacy Transforms.” I am attending and look forward to learning all of the ways we can support the transformations literacy so uniquely and powerfully creates.
I believe Literacy Transforms…
…Young Children. The change is evident in how children can be prior to learning about books and reading, and how they are once they learn about these simple treasures. After the watershed event of discovering books, children learn to step out of their concrete here-and-now orientation to life and trek more deeply, with every page turn, into a world of new possibilities. That’s transformation!
…Lifelong Readers. Lifelong readers understand that avid (daily, self-selected, joyful) reading displaces their only-for-school experience of required reading of teacher-selected books and texts. They know reading positions them on a continuous growth curve of learning more about what interests and excites them. Lifelong reading leads to ongoing knowledge acquisition and a way to nurture our learning selves.
…Communities. Literate communities are those where everyone reads, where books and other interesting materials are available every way one turns, where animated conversations about what has been read—from newspapers to best sellers—is a delightful pastime that alters life in substantial ways. In such communities, infants daily read colorful naming and concept books with their families. Babies and toddlers read books with older siblings, adding their own voices to new personalities they discover. Preschoolers read along as they concoct narratives for wordless picture books that invite conversation around the co-creation of new and familiar stories.
School-age children in literate communities are delighted to enter the cool, calm comfort of the local and online libraries. These rarely bored youngsters always have a book going and are notorious for sneak–reading between lessons and activities at school, even bringing their current reads to the cafeteria or the family dining tables. They’re often oblivious to the noisy amusements of TV and video games in favor of going on the fuller adventures within the pages of their current books.
Literacy Transformed communities are united in their commitments to creating a culture of reading. They come together to help young families find great books for reading with their little ones or helping older children understand and celebrate their own interests and dreams by reading self-selected books. In these communities, literacy contributes powerfully to all conversations.
I invite you to unite with your family members, friends, co-workers and community leaders to experience the transforming power of books and reading.