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A Black Man Thinking: Volume One - Raising Children
By Maurice Arthur
A Black Man Thinking L.L.C.Copyright © 2007 Maurice Arthur
All right reserved.
Reading will significantly enhance your child's chances of success. Reading is the great equalizer and can put you on the same level with just about anybody, anywhere. Reading can take you places you'll never go and help you see things you've never seen before. Reading can educate the uneducated.
read 1: To comprehend or take in the meaning of something written or printed 2: To utter or render aloud something written or printed
When I was growing up, we had only one car (of course) and one driver in our home. This was fairly common at the time. My mother didn't have a drivers license and my father was the only driver in the house. If you thought the fact that my mother didn't drive stopped her from getting around, you would be wrong.
My father, served as the chauffeur for the entire family and particularly for my mother. Mommy got around town much more than most of her friends that drove, because my dad would take her everywhere and seemingly never complained. Daddy could chauffeur mommy for hours at a time and not complain because he always had a book. He never went anywhere without a book! Daddy viewed driving his wife anywhere, waiting for her (there were no cell phones) and driving her home as an opportunity. Waiting for his wife, was an opportunityfor Daddy to read and get smarter.
While my father only had a high school education, he was one of the smartest men you could ever meet. Daddy got much smarter because he loved to read, read and read. Mommy worked for the University of Chicago and Daddy took pleasure in conversing with the many professors that he met at the university. Many of these professors had multiple advanced degrees, so they often had many letters after their name. Daddy could hold a conversation with any of these professors, some of which were world renowned, on just about anything. While my father loved to read, he only read non-fiction.
The philosophy of my father was based on the old saying, "the idle mind is the devil's workshop." Reading was Daddy's way of having an active mind and he learned to enjoy reading. His way of thinking was 1) reading was a good way to keep your mind active, 2) you can read and be entertained, and 3) if you can read, be entertained AND learn something at the same time, that's heavenly.
"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body." Joseph Addison
Daddy's reading was contagious. If we were in the car and we knew we would be waiting for my mother, my father made it our responsibility to entertain ourselves, and my sister and I did. Sometimes we entertained ourselves by counting the number of doodle-bugs (Volkswagen Beetle) around the college campus, and the rest of the time we'd entertain ourselves with a book.
Parents who read often have children that read, and this is a huge area of opportunity. Far too many parents aren't reading and neither are their children. Because my father was a reader, I became a reader. It had nothing to do with smarts. And because I'm a reader, my son and daughter are avid readers.
While I'm not quite the non-fiction reader that my father was, I enjoy reading immensely. In my first years out of college, I read primarily fiction. I had to make it a point to make sure that every third book that I read was non-fiction. With my father as a role model, I had to get some non-fiction books under my belt. It doesn't matter if its fact (non-fiction) or fiction, the key is to read.
Be a role model for your child and that means YOU should read. Have a family reading time and your child will enjoy it. Read to your child, beginning in the womb and continue reading to your child until your child can read on their own. Then family reading time becomes a time when everyone is reading their own books and not just you reading to your child. Have your child keep a reading journal once they can read.
"Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
It was a cold blustery day for getting a car wash, but I was getting a car wash anyway. Since all the seats outside were in the cold, I decided to sit in a small little used waiting area. Seated across from me were a young mom and her son who had to be no more than twelve years old. I've been in many car washes but what I saw when I looked at the young lady and her son was something I hadn't seen in decades.
The young mom was waiting in the sitting room for her car and was holding a book while her son read out loud to her! What a great feeling.
Her son was reading out of a book that was clearly above his grade level. Slowly but confidently, he read paragraph after paragraph. On occasion he stumbled with a word and his mother helped him with the word and he continued reading. The young mother probably sensed that I was looking at her and looked up and smiled. I returned the smile and was considering how I could tell the young lady how proud it made me to see her son reading to her.
Before I could say a word, a knock on the glass door notified the young lady that her car was ready.
"Darn" I thought. I really wanted to talk to the young mom because she was setting such a great foundation for her son, and I wanted to tell her.
The young lady looked at me and I looked at her. It seemed as if she didn't want to leave and I didn't really want her to leave. The man knocked on the glass door again and she slowly got up with her son to leave.
"Excuse me" I said. "I just wanted you to know how impressed I was with your son's reading. That's great!"
"Well thank you. I always make sure he reads to me. He's always reading and he reads out loud to me when he's reading harder books. I know how important it is that he read."
"Young man" I said as I looked eye-to-eye with her son. "You are one lucky guy to have a mother like yours. Your mom is right, reading is important. Listen to your mother and keep reading. You can be anything you want to be."
The young mom beamed with pride as she and her son gave me one of the biggest, happiest smiles I had ever seen.
"Thanks so much" she said as they left the waiting room.
I couldn't contain my smile. My heart hadn't been touched like that in quite a while.
"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." Mark Twain
If you're not currently a reader and would like to become one; here are a few suggestions to get you started;
- Go to the library and get a library card. While you're there, ask about any reading programs; or set a goal to read a book every two or three weeks. - Determine a subject of interest to you, and read a book on that subject. - Find a place that you would like to learn about or visit, and read a book about that place. - Consider something that you would like to learn to do, read a book on it and try to do it. - Have a family reading time without the television.
And if you need assistance with your reading skills, seek out a literacy program at a library near you. The key is to find something that is interesting to you. More important than what you read is that you read!
Before you know it, you'll discover all kinds of things that you wanted to know, and that's only the beginning. Your child will become a reader with you as a role model. Reading can give you hope. Reading gives you the ability to learn. Reading is one of the most precious gifts that you can give your child.
Take This with You Reading gives you the ability to continuously learn. Reading can give you hope. Reading is about you. And Remember Get your child a library card and use the library. Establish a family reading time. Read every day.
Excerpted from A Black Man Thinking: Volume One - Raising Children by Maurice Arthur Copyright © 2007 by Maurice Arthur. Excerpted by permission.
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