Most Literate, Most Challenged

From We Act Radio’s Education Town Hall: Washington has been declared the “most literate” city in the U.S. since 2010. Meanwhile, DC also has areas with illiteracy rates close to 50%, and a “book desert” where 830 children would need to share one age-appropriate book for sale. Hear from Dr. John W. Miller, author of the “most literate cities” studies; Dr. Jesse Turner, director of the Central Connecticut State Literacy Center and a friend of the Education Town Hall, and Jimmie Williams, executive director of DC’s Washington Literacy Center. July 27 Education Town Hall

This is a follow up to the Education Town Hall’s “Book Deserts and Their Effects” report. See also “Literacy East and West of DC’s Anacostia.”

The Education Town Hall with Thomas Byrd
broadcasts from Historic Anacostia
in Washington, DC, on We Act Radio,
Thursdays at 11:00 a.m. Eastern
Listen live via TuneIn.
Shows are archived for convenient listening shortly after broadcast.

After years of weekly broadcasts, the program now focuses one show each month on local issues and one on “the BUS,” organized by BadAss Teachers, United Opt Out, and SOS March.

Book Deserts and Their Effects


Book deserts “may seriously constrain young children’s opportunities to come to school ready to learn,” says professor Susan B. Neuman, lead author of a study which included several neighborhoods in the District.

[(USC Emeritus Professor) Steven] Kashen reports that book access and poverty are related but separate. On the one hand, “Children who live in poverty have fewer books in their homes, sometimes none. Fewer books in their neighborhood, fewer bookstores…inferior classroom libraries and school libraries.” HOWEVER, Kashen continues, reading ability is affected by book access independently of poverty. Giving children access to books can actually balance the effects of poverty: “Poor children don’t read well, because they don’t have access to books. You give them books, they do better.”
— from “Book Deserts and Their Effects” audio, text, citations and resources
at Education Town Hall


“She Was a Conqueror”

From “Activists are trying to open a DC bookstore in honor of a slain journalist,” Washington Post 7/14/17:

[Charnice] Milton’s parents said the bookstore’s social justice component would make it an ideal tribute to their daughter.

Milton’s mother, Francine Milton, recalled her daughter reading 99 books in a single summer while in elementary school. She was reading Shakespeare in middle school and, as an adult, enjoyed Japanese anime books. She grew up in Southeast and sought to tell stories that otherwise wouldn’t be told as a contributing reporter for Capital Community News….

“I see this bookstore as mere justice, not just social justice,” [Charnice’s father, Kenneth] McClenton said. “This is a tribute to what a person can do when the world comes against it. They can overcome it. Even in death, Charnice was not a victim — she was a conqueror.”
— Perry Stein, Washington Post 7/14/17 read more

One of several launch events.

Tax Deductible Donations

Support renovations and initial costs for the Charnice Milton Community Bookstore. Through the DC-based nonprofit, Social Art And Culture (SAAC), all donations are tax-deductible. Thank you for supporting this important community project.

Look for an important announcement about CMCB in May.

Donate books you love every Wednesday 5-8pm at 1918 MLK Ave SE WDC 20020 and post pics of books you love with the hashtags #WeLuvBooks.

Nothing to Read on Their Own

“Children who live in poverty have fewer books in their home, sometimes none. Fewer books in their neighborhood, fewer bookstores. They go to schools with inferior classroom libraries, school libraries, etc. You can have the best teaching in the world, and it’s not going to help when children are hungry, undernourished, ill, and have nothing to read on their own.

“The more people read for pleasure – free voluntary reading – the higher their literacy scores. We have an astonishing amount or research showing this is true. You can have the best teaching in the world, and it’s not going to help when children are ill, undernourished, and have nothing to read on their own.
— Dr. Steven Krashen, professor emeritus, USC

Below is a short, clear overview of Dr. Krashen’s findings about access to books, condensing decades researching in the field. His presentation is directed to the need for classroom and school libraries, but his research also relates to the need for bookstores and general access to books.

For more details, see the full report Krashen presented Why Invest in Libraries (PDF) to the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education (2/11/14).

Thanks to Dr. Jesse Turner, professor of Literacy, Elementary, and Early Childhood Education at Central Connecticut State University, for sharing this source.