Tag Archives: teaching literacy

The Racial Achievement Gap in Literacy

When I was enrolled in Clare’s graduate course on literacy teaching, our class was assigned a reading from Alfred Tatum’s 2005 book Teaching reading to black adolescent males: Closing the achievement gap. It was one of my favorite readings and the class discussion was so engaging; many of my peers, myself included, were overcome with emotion. I will never forget reading the introduction, which felt like a Hollywood script until I realized that this is many people’s reality and that the incident he describes is representative of a large problem that needs to be addressed. Simply put, the role of literacy in the lives of young black men must be reconceptualized.

According to Alfred, the book is his attempt “to speak on behalf of all those young black males who yearn for understanding as they journey through rough terrain. Many of these young men want educators to respond to their needs and so help release them from a poverty-ridden paralysis that stiffens dreams” (p. 3).  Check out the introduction/the book here!

On a similar note, I came across this uplifting article a few days ago. An 11- year old boy started a book club, Book N Bros, that celebrates black books and African-American literature that shies away from the typically negative urban stories. With an emphasis on black protagonists, a new book every month, and meetings to discuss themes and complete worksheets, the aim is to improve the literacy rate among boys 8-10 years old. Some of the books that have already been read include Hidden Figures, The Supadupa Kid and A Song for Harlem: Scraps of Time.       Awesome!BlackProtagonistBook

Defining Literacy

Literacy in the 21st century. What does it mean? Or perhaps the better question to ask is, what does it mean TO YOU?Children reading

  • If you are a writer, editor, public relations manager perhaps literacy means the the ability to read and write.
  • If you are a financial advisor perhaps literacy means the ability to understand “how money works in the world” (financial literacy).
  • If you are a journalist, analyst, or film maker perhaps literacy means the ability to “analyze, evaluate and create messages in a wide variety of media modes…” (media literacy).
  • If you are weather analyst, forest ranger, or environmentalist perhaps literacy means the ability to “understand ecological principals and the ways society  affects, or responds to environmental conditions” (environmental literacy).
  • In keeping with the Winter Olympics, if you are an athlete, perhaps literacy means the ability to “move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments” (physical literacy).
  • If you are an elementary school educator, literacy means all of the above. If you are a elementary school student, literacy means all of the above.
  • If you are a literacy teacher educator, literacy means… By Yiola
    * definitions taken from online google searches, mainly wikipedia.