I was inspired to write this message because of a presentation on books made by one of our church members during Black History Month. She is bringing books to church each Sunday with hopes of a child taking an interest in reading some of them. It might be a wise suggestion if parents would schedule a reading hour each day for their children. Sister Cynthia Thompson’s intent is to bring awareness to parents and children the importance of books and reading them. Unfortunately, reading has been replaced with computer games and the likes causing books to become secondary. Reading is one of the primary means of acquiring knowledge.
One writer states, “The capacity to learn is a gift; The ability to learn is a skill; The willingness to learn is a choice.” Reading provides an opportunity to broaden one’s knowledge.
Can you imagine a person not knowing how to read? Just imagine how frustrating it must have been for slaves and our forefathers and foremothers, not knowing how to read. Let’s take the discussion a little further. Just imagine reading being illegal and unlawful for a people such as us. There was a time that reading was forbidden, but slaves and free people were determined to learn how to read even if it meant taking a chance and getting caught. Getting caught reading a book had devastating consequences. Let it be told, some slaves learned how to read because the slave owner’s wives or daughters showed compassion to some slaves. Every now and then, we should be reminded that all White people were not bad. There were some sympathizers that aided blacks with their plight and still do.
Unfortunately, roadblocks are nothing new for Blacks, for we have always had to overcome obstacles. Some of those challenges have been due to racism and injustices that would make us feel like second class citizens. It has been proven that we can do anything any other race of people can do.
One of my greatest frustrations or heartache for me as a sixth-grade teacher was when a child reached sixth grade and could not read. Just imagine how depressing, frustrating and embarrassing it was for the child who witnessed classmates reading, but they could not. Sometimes these students were passed from grade to grade even if they did not know how to read. Some of them even reached graduation not knowing how to pronounce words. Thank God for some of the reading specialist and classroom teachers in the Prince George’s County Public Schools who spent time and energy, one on one, with some of the students teaching them how to read.
Today I wish to salute and honor Mrs. Geneva Spencer for her love and devotion to children and her commitment to her job. Mrs. Spencer devoted time and energy to some of these students, and they learned how to read well enough to succeed.
Shame on the sports world and colleges for using athletes to accomplish their goal of winning games. The interest was and still is on the game and not the well-being of an individual. There have been persons who have gone to college and played professional sports, but did not know how to read as an adult. Thank God they took the initiative of learning once it was brought to light.
With all that has been said, let’s now concentrate on the importance of reading. For all of us, reading should stimulate the mind. Some experts say that reading increases memory and our communication skills. Reading helps us to learn new things that will help us succeed in life. If your child is reading below grade level, please take the time and provide some additional resources for them. You may have to even hire a tutor for them. Parents, we know how busy life has become, but you may need to spend time each day reading with or to your children. For it is of utmost importance in a time such as this.
When I hear about our young people dropping out of school, it breaks my heart. Many of them will end up on the streets doing nothing or taking chances in making illegal money. It is difficult to even find a job in many vocations without a high school degree these days. I encourage all of us to read with discipline, for it is one of our virtues to success. If you have a family member or friend who is deficient in reading, take time with love to work with them in a way that is not uncomfortable to them or you.
One of the books most slave owners had in their homes was the Bible. That is why and how so many Blacks learned to read. Of course, they had to do their reading in secrecy.
Proverbs 9:9 says, “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.”
Let’s put forth a concerted effort to keep our minds sharp by reading books, magazines, etc.
Not a sermon, just my thoughts!
Robert Earl Slade, Pastor