Reading Is Fundamental
Diversity is being invited to the party and Inclusion is being asked to dance.
Our in-house Diversity and Inclusion expert, Nasiya Acklen shares with us ways to build inclusive homes and communities.
I have always had a thirst for learning, but honestly – I wished that I had a stronger interest in reading books. I am extremely passionate about public speaking. Throughout the years, I have been lauded and teased for “speaking properly” or for using “big words”. It started with my red, hardback children’s Bible covered in vivid illustrations I read with my mother as a child; and I remember that I wasn’t allowed to mispronounce certain words in front of my parents or grandparents (i.e. library and specific). Fast forward thirty years later, and my family still likes to tease me for crying as a little girl because I was tired of getting educational toys (I just wanted to play!). The majority of these ‘reading rules’ stemmed from a family where most started college, but did not complete it for various reasons, and it became an integral part of my childhood memories.
When I first heard about the published research (1995) of child psychologists, Betty Hart and Todd Risley, that stated some children hear 30 million fewer words than others by the age of 3 – I was intrigued. The research may be over twenty years old, but the key principle remains unchanged that the early formative years of childhood have a dramatic impact on the course of the child’s future. Can you guess which kids are largely affected by this epidemic? You guessed it. Underprivileged children – predominately those from less affluent or professional homes. Ultimately, the researchers found that children’s speech begins by mirroring that of their parents.
These articles about the word gap were not written for unnecessarily shaming the parents, and that is not my intention here. However, I would venture to guess that you would find an increasing amount of single mothers, fathers or even dual-parent households with high demanding professional careers that struggle to find time and energy to converse with their children these days. Environmental circumstances – such as single mothers working two or more jobs in order to make ends meet – were cited at a greater disadvantage; leaving little time or energy to tête-à-tête with their children when they got home. As the socioeconomic divide continues to widen and inflation steadily outpaces wage rates, some of the pervasive financial burdens on lower income homes remain unchanged. So what IS a possible alternative that can break this vicious cycle?
Reading can provide children an opportunity to see beyond their current environment. Every parent may not have all of the knowledge or personal experience for the future that they would like their kids to achieve; however, they are purposeful very early to provide opportunities and resources to get their child(ren) there. Books include words that may not be used every day in their households and visions that may be unimaginable in their current world. Reading may just well be an intentional gift that you can give to your child’s future!
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” –Maya Angelou
#Me3project Discussion Starters:
- Do you read with your children? When is the last time you put their comprehension to the test by asking them to tell YOU about the story?
- How many books of interest have you allowed your child to purchase or read for free from the library?
- How many books do you have at home or read with your children that feature characters that look like them? How many stories that do not look like them?
If there are particular diversity and or inclusion topics of interest that you would like to see in a future blog posting, please let us know.
Nasiya Acklen is a native of Nashville, TN. She matriculated at Hampton University for her undergraduate degree and received her MBA from Cornell University. Nasiya is currently a Human Resources professional at a Fortune 500 company and has a burning passion for being a change agent, particularly in the realm of Diversity & Inclusion. Nasiya has adopted Maya Angelou’s quote as a personal mantra: My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.