In 1996 my wife and I visited China, we arrive at 11:00 AM eastern standard time, but 11:00 PM local time. Wide awake, hungry and feeling adventurous we asked the concierge for a good restaurant to dine. Due to the late hour, we were directed to a nearby eatery that catered to employees working in the hospitality industry; locals, not tourists. Nonetheless, we located our destination without issue and were seated quickly. Our waiter arrived promptly, presented us with menus and gave us a nod of acknowledgment. He then waited for us to order. After perusing the menu - completely written in Chinese and processing the meaning of the nod, we quickly realized we had a problem. The waiter did not speak English and we were unable to speak or read Chinese. We felt completely lost as the waiter pointed at items and tried to explain them via gestures. Needless to say, we felt uncomfortable by the inquisitive stares of other patrons. However, our problem was solved when the manager summoned a young child to read and translate the menu for us. It was a humbling, embarrassing and frustrating experience, but one many illiterate adults experience every day in America. It is also one which many young children encounter in classroom settings throughout the school year.
Groove Phi Groove Social Fellowship, Inc. ~ Building a Better Tomorrow ~ One Young Man at a Time
~ Dr. Seuss
On behalf of the Philadelphia Graduate Chapter, Inc. President Khary Atif and Fl. Chris Kingsberry accepted the invitation and delivered approximately 80 books to be distributed to children residing in the predominately Black section of North Philadelphia. The focus of the Fellowmen was on Afrocentric books which reinforce self-esteem, exploration of science, reading development, pride in culture, poetry, and strengthening family values. A sampling of the books donated can be seen in the pictures below, and include; “Bambaloo,” “Tar Beach,” “Let it Shine,” “How Many Stars in the Sky?” and “Abiyoyo.”
Doctors Rueztel and Cotter emphatically state, "The ability to read is a key factor in living a healthy, happy, and productive life" (Teaching Children to Read, 2014). Just imagine how lost you would feel living in a county which you could not read the language. The ability to drive, find the desired destination, acquire effective medical treatment, order food and obtain gainful employment would be restricted and difficult. In essence, you would need a written interpreter. Without encouragement nonreaders and poor readers will evolve from poor students to adults unable to fully engage in the political process (register to vote), purchase a home, obtain a drivers license, read medicine warning labels, arrange travel or handle personal finances without assistance. Thus, the inability to read well has devastating and far-reaching effects. One only needs to look at the quick facts listed at proliteracy.org, or visit noes.ed.gov (The National Center for Education Statistics) to see the correlation between unemployment, incarceration, drop out rate and teen pregnancy.
The National Institute of Health list illiteracy as a disorder. However, just as many illnesses can be cured or prevented by being given a pill, illiteracy can be treated or prevented by giving those in need a book. In terms of prevention, studies show that the earlier the intervention, the better the results. An abstract submitted by cognitive neuroscientist Eino Partanen to PNAS.org (Proceedings of the National Academy of Science vol. 100 no 37) indicates that learning begins in the womb. Specifically, he states, "Our results indicate that the fetal brain possesses similar learning and memory capacities to those of an infant, and improving and optimizing the auditory environment even before birth is warranted." Thus we can conclude that the expecting mother should begin reading out loud to her unborn child at least by the last trimester and continue reading to their children until that child is able to explore and comprehend literary environments independently.
Moreover, reading and exploration of new environments are important components in the development of our minds, especially that of young children. Yet, Inner city low-income children seldom have the opportunity to travel outside their neighborhood or local community. However, tools such as the Internet and television have made it possible for us to visually explore distant places without leaving our homes. However cognitive enrichment via television is limited to selective programming chosen by paid advertisement. Unlike television, which is free, the Internet allows one to choose their areas of interest, but come with costs that are prohibitive for many impoverished families. However, books allow young readers to explore different environments, ethnic cultures, time periods and meet real people like Dr. Charles Drew, Dr. Martin Luther King and fictional characters such as Judy Bloom, and encyclopedia Brown without leaving their home.
Like the Internet, books come with a cost, but the costs are not reoccurring in the manner of a monthly bill. Notwithstanding, there is a cost. Thus, we are asking Fellowmen to Join the Philadelphia Chapter of Groove Phi Groove, and Temple University Black Alumni Alliance in broadening the minds of our children in need and help them discover their favorite book. My favorite book as a child was Treasure Island. I credit that book with awakening my sense of adventure and fostering my desire to explore different landscapes and cultures such as Bangkok, Thailand; Uxmal, Mexico; Bali, Indonesia, and China. Help a child discover their favorite book. You can HELP by purchasing a new Afrocentric book via book club, Amazon and have it shipped to us directly, you can bring it to a regional meeting or a Graduate Chapter meeting. Our goal for next year is to donate a hundred books, but we cannot do it without your help. Note. Meeting dates are listed on the events calendar. Please use the Contact Form for shipping address. Thank You in advance for helping a child in need.
~ Fellowman Chris Kingsberry
A New Partnership Formed
As the Fellowmen of Groove Phi Groove, S.F.I.
make a Splash
at Temple University's
Black Alumni Alliance 6th Annual Book Drive
"The more you Read, the more Things you know.
The more that you Learn, the more Places you'll go."
Copyright 2013. Fl. Chris Kingsberry ~ The Philadelphia Graduate Chapter, Inc. ~ Groove Phi Groove, Social Fellowship, Inc. All rights reserved.