If Football Players Can Wear Pink, We Can End Illiteracy

Football blog collage

(Left to right) Cowboys & Lions in pink; Pam Good, Renee Prewitt, Leslie Andrews and Councilman James Tate at Beyond Basics Literacy Summit; Links Panel on Literacy; Art Wall at Starr Academy.

I believe that we will greatly diminish illiteracy–especially in Detroit–in my lifetime. I’m a believer because I’ve seen problems of this magnitude make significant advances since I’ve been around, and I’m convinced that, when it comes to illiteracy, this too shall pass.

For example, December 1 was the anniversary of the day that Civil Rights Advocate Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to move to the back of the bus. Today, Barack Obama sits in the White House as the nation’s first African American president. Decades ago, Nancy Brinker’s sister, Susan G. Komen, sat in the back room of a hospital at a time when it was taboo to say the words “breast cancer.” Today, even big, strapping football players wear pink shoes on the football field, and an army of survivors have helped to turn fear and shame into courage. I’m a big fan of classic movies, and beyond their black and white allure and stylish sophistication, they reflected a time when smoking cigarettes was considered cool and sexy. Today, cigarette cool is making its last stand. The little tobacco stick is not even allowed in its most sacred refuge, the bar! Who ever would have thought?

But, most of all, I’m a believer because every time I’m with a group of people who are committed to reading and literacy, the energy in the room is so powerful. The people and the programs underway are not overwhelmed by the problem here in Detroit, where 47% of people are illiterate. Rather, they are dedicated to exposing children to books, to new experiences and helping them to develop language. Small victories become huge successes over time.

I believe that we will win this war on illiteracy in Detroit, in America, and eventually, around the world. Think about it, and I am sure you will agree. We’ve all seen issues of this magnitude solved in the past, and in time, we will say, Illiteracy: Problem solved! The opportunities to be a part of the movement are everywhere!

Reading and Volunteer Resources

Renee Prewitt is author of Taj Cleans the Garage and Malcolm Mows the Lawn, books about little boys whose chores turn into exciting adventures!

I Lived and Learned!

TCC Head Start 7-17-2013

Yesterday, my new children’s book, Taj Cleans the Garage, took its maiden voyage inside of a Head Start classroom where I read it to my intended audience: Several little people, from 3-5 years old. Yes, I was nervous, although I didn’t understand why. It wasn’t like they were seasoned book critics who would analyze the quality of Taj’s many adventures, or whether or not the flying horse spread his wings east and west, instead of north and south. No, I think that I was nervous because I desperately wanted them to be excited about my book and to like it.  They were, and they did.

I have several questions at the end of the book, and when I asked, “Where would you like the flying horse to take you?” I was reminded over and over again that all things familiar were things that resonate with them the most. They said, “To Grandma’s house,” “Home,” and “To the store.” And they were so cute!  I was pleased that they sat and listened, and I was ready to talk to them forever, when one little girl asked, “Can I go and play now?”  Of course you can, sweetie; you all can.

So, lesson learned.  It’s not about me. Don’t ask the children all 10 questions at the end of the book, maybe three or four, and let them talk. Because they will, and their answers are priceless.

I met several vendors at the Head Start Fair who asked me to read at their upcoming events and/or passed on info about other opportunities to read my book.  I can’t wait.

To learn more about The Children’s Center Head Start Academy, please call them at 313.831.5535 or email TCCacademy@childrensctr.net.

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