But Seriously, Folks.

With the comedy night coming up, we’ve been tending toward the humorous over here.

But, we’ve got to keep in mind… Literacy is no laughing matter.

In South Carolina, about 25% to 30% of adults read below a sixth grade reading level. What was your favorite book in 6th grade? I checked the Barnes & Noble book suggestions for children ages 9-12. (Sixth graders are usually 11, turning 12.) Here’s what they recommended:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl.  The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle.  From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E. L. Konigsburg.  Have you read any of these?

OMG, you guys, these are a few of my FAVORITE books from childhood. When talking about Turning Pages, I have repeated that sixth-grade reading level benchmark over and over; it’s considered the defining line that denotes “functionally illiterate.” (I hate that phrase.) But this is the first time I’ve dug deeper into the real meaning of  the “sixth-grade reading level.” Here’s what I’ve found…

As I reflect on these books, I’ve realized just how much each one has impacted my life, even into adulthood. I have read them over and over.  I’ve wished for my own chocolate river and everlasting gobstoppers. I’ve seen the movie adaptations– after high school graduation — ie. well past sixth grade. (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was pretty creepy at the drive-in).

As a child, my dad read From the Mixed Up Files to my brother and me, a chapter at a time, at bedtime. (We would beg him not to turn the light out, to keep reading…) I’ve gone to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, for the express purpose of looking for the fountain where Claudia and Jamie took baths when they ran away from home to live in the museum. (Yes, I found it.) And when my youngest brother was 7 or 8, I made sure the book was read to him.

I remember discussing The Phantom Tollbooth with a friend, when I was 19,  in the cafeteria of our college dorm. I read A Wrinkle In Time last summer on the beach. I was in sixth grade when the very first Harry Potter book came out, but now, as an adult with a Master’s degree, I’ve added a visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to my bucket list.

They may be “just” children’s books, but clearly the reach is farther than that.

Adult education tends to focus on the practical. At Turning Pages, we do learner-led instruction, which means that often, learners want to cover material related to getting their commercial drivers license, or balancing their bank account, or making some healthy recipes. But other times, they want to read what their child is reading in school, or want to read something to their child. We can never predict the true meaning of helping someone bring reading into their life, but we can be sure that the meaning is there.

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