Mrs. Mary Johnson, originally from Wisconsin, has lots of experience working with children, she is a retired teacher. She worked for 40+ years as a Kindergarten, 2nd, and 3rd grade teacher and loved just about every minute of it. I asked her some questions about literacy, what it meant to her, and how she thinks we, as a community, can help kids to read and actually like it to where they do it often. One of the things she noted as being difficult to overcome is how the family unit worked. If a child is talked to and read to all day about educational things such as reading books and working on academic activities, but they go home to a family who is disconnected from that aspect, then they’re not progressing academically and mentally. Mary shared a story, specifically about the effects of the family unit failing to work together to promote literacy, about her daughter-in-law. While growing up, her daughter-in-law’s parents didn’t take literacy and school work seriously. She was hardly read to and doesn’t remember being accountable at school the next day when her homework wasn’t finished, she reports. Now, she works the night shift at a gas station preparing next day’s sandwiches. However, her kids will now grow up with a grandma who cares deeply about reading and the gains a child can have from being read to at home. She consistently buys them books and reads to them when she visits.
I asked her about ways that we can help our kids read more and gain the desire for it. She notes that having a home library, small or large, and seeing their parents reading as well, really helps a child to understand the importance of reading and literacy. She notes that, while teaching, they would do their lessons for part of the class, and then she would gather them all up and read to them. She said they were hooked and you could see the intent and gratification they received when being read to. They loved it and so did she.
Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, both retired, still have coffee and read the newspaper together, every single morning.