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Reading for social change: Teneile Warren at TEDxTheAnnexWomen

Reading for social change: Teneile Warren at TEDxTheAnnexWomen

so here's the thing literacy is a bad word unfortunately we are nothing without it achieving 100% literacy is the number one solution to creating a sustainable world almost every country is investing in adult literacy programming programming dedicated to perfecting the sentence in use structure and style 84% of the world is considered literate but almost 50% of that number is struggling with low literacy that's more than half the population knowing what the sentence is but barely understanding it so if the solution is literacy then why don't the literate understand we're not reading enough see reading is a difference between low literacy and high literacy reading is difference between the world we have and the world we could have so if we want to tackle poverty or the economic crisis or increased employability community-building the active creation of a better to run to a better Canada a better world we need to do more reading reading turns the mechanics of literacy into comprehension critical thinking and communication now that doesn't mean that we need to start opening reading schools but what it does means that when you start taking advantage of the human connection with books see literacy and reading like everything else is social it depends on what a person needs at a specific point in time it isn't something you have we don't have it's something you develop and adopt my grandmother is the person that inspires me most and she always does two things the daily crossword and she reads when I was a kid to connect with her I would read the same books that she read in the evening on the patio at night and the next day I'd go to her ready to quiz her with questions questions about character questions about stories questions about why suspense thrillers over science fiction why this offer of that author and what I realized is we're having conversations and I was learning from them unfortunately as I got older I did less reading I was becoming a busy adult and I was an only 1c 33% of us never read again after we leave college 80 percent of us didn't buy a book last year 70 percent of us haven't been in a bookstore in five years fast forward to 2010 when I moved to Toronto to pursue my master's in creative writing to find myself a supper claim reader terrified by the length of the reading list when do I write who's the question I asked myself nevertheless every lecturer every guest speaker every author said the same thing if you want to be a better writer you need to do more reading in my second semester of being inundated with reading I get this opportunity to facilitate reading circles with underprivileged young moms in underserved communities in Toronto now the idea of the reading circle is completely foreign to me and to be honest I thought it was kind of silly nevertheless I had a plan I was going to enter the room with a nice inspirational speech and be reading just like that my speech went something like this in a reading circle we read together we write we talk we grow I only have one request of each of you that you read at least one page by the end of the program my speech is greeted with sentence but then a voice in the back of the room says what means to illiterate so all whether it is now I recognize which are making direct what you're saying is we're illiterate we can't do this that pronouncement unites them it's 12 against one I say let's try it and see how it goes so for the next few weeks I'm the only one reading and I'm exhausted so I decided to shift the traditional literacy and focus more on writing but every week literacy kept coming up at least one woman said I'm illiterate so I decided to ask why it's what their teachers told them what their parents told them it's what their families told them it's what their social workers told them and they believed it so we started reading more and writing lists I shared my personal experience with reading we talked we bonded we took those characters off those pages and we took them into Jane and Finch Weejun Park downtown Toronto the annex we made them figure out housing and open bank accounts we questioned whether not we be friends with them and we found that sometimes we knew them see this amazing thing started to happen the comprehension improved their critical thinking improved the communication improved their literacy levels improved but most importantly their confidence improved so the fear of literacy was replaced by the usability of reading and there are three big reasons why that happens reading improves empathy reading gives us life changing perspectives they teach us how to handle our emotions and we could all do a better job of hand more emotions reading encourages life goals some more favorite books are about people overcoming obstacles and we pull from those stories to make decisions in our own lives reading connects us stories about characters are some of the best conversations we will ever have and it gets better a person that possesses empathy ambition and feels included is two times more likely to contribute to our community to volunteer exercise or civic duty to be employed to be a better citizen and a better friend business and industry helps itself when helps individuals to become readers a 1% increase in the literacy rate will generate 18 billion in economic growth each year a person that reads made-up stories is three times more likely to climb the employment ladder we dream bigger and these are all people can benefit from having around see reading is a core of day to day function we are nothing without it we read our favorite chocolate bar wrapper or the prescription bottle or the newspaper we read everything when we are young we learn to read but when we are older we must read to never stop learning so the idea is simple I challenge you to read more for yourselves for your families for your friends for your jobs but that stranger that may see you reading and read in turn I encourage you to pass on the power of reading to at least one person even if that person is yourself if you're a reader share it if you're not a reader try it it's an invaluable tool and its impact is immeasurable we don't need more literate citizens we need more readers

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. I read your Huffpost article about yourself and your wife. Insightful, informative and you conveyed your feelings extremely well to me as a reader. I have some comments and some questions, if you'd ever like to chat. I'm alot like you. VERY like you, actually (minus the impressive academic success)

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