I love reading. I always have. My mother taught me how to read when I was very young, and although I struggled academically for many years during my educational journey, as chronicled in my book, “The Little Flower Vignettes – Story Behind The Story,” the ability to read was never my problem. However, the ability to prepare for test based on comprehending subject matter, led to anxiety and poor test taking skills, low self-esteem and no confidence in my ability to understand complex issues.Fortunately, I was able to identify, address and overcome my comprehension issues, which led me to confidently pursue advanced academic degrees.

Four benefits of strong reading skills are:

1. Boosts Comprehension and Memorization

Comprehension and memorization is a key skill needed to ace exams. A pupil cannot interpret what he or she doesn’t understand; neither can he remember what he or she hasn’t read. Strong reading skills promote comprehension and memorization and the ability to identify a connection with other stories.

Statistics from the Bureau of Labour Statistics found that students who struggle with reading in the first few years of elementary school comprises percent of those who do not receive a diploma.

2. Improved Awareness The stronger a child’s reading skills, the more curious they are. Strong readers are not selective in what they read. They read any and everything-from billboards and road signs to newspapers and academic resources well beyond their grade level.

3. Increased Fluency It is often said that practice makes perfect and the more a child reads, the better he or she becomes at it. Reading aloud is important in the acquisition of this skill. Reading aloud builds a child’s confidence and fluency, which is vastly improved if they receive encouragement from adults.

4. Builds the Vocabulary Since stronger readers read more, they are highly likely to come across a variety of new words which builds their vocabulary. New and interesting words pique their curiosity prodding them to ask questions or run to the dictionary or computer to find answers to their questions. Overtime, an increased vocabulary coupled with memory skills, strengthen overall literacy.

A society is only as strong as its weakest members and if we want to strengthen the fabric of our communities we have to start from the ground up by ensuring that our youth have a solid reading foundation. How can we do this? By becoming engaged in the literacy delivery process on a formal and informal basis.

Do the civic and social organizations of which you are affiliated have or support a youth literacy outreach initiative?

Will you make a commitment to play a part in strengthening the moral and economic fabric of your community?

We all can make a positive contribution to the future of our society.

If you would like to learn more about ways that you can get involve in literacy outreach, join the conversation on the Little Flower Literacy and Economics Radio Show each Thursday morning at 10:30 AM CST, at www.littleflowerartist.com.

The show highlights the connection between illiteracy, economics and communities, and offers solutions to securing funding for community development initiatives that address the youth illiteracy problem.