I remember my Mother would take my sister and I to the library all the time. She’d drive us from St.Elmo to the View Park Bebe Moore Campbell Library off of 54th St. There, I checked out my first chapter book in 4th grade: A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. After that book, I read all 13, the final one being published when I was in middle school.
In between that time, I’d check out all sorts of books and ask my Mommy to take me to Borders and Barnes & Nobles. Sometimes I’d even finish a book while hiding somewhere in a nook. I think for me, it was so adventurous to be able to disappear almost quite physically while my mind traveled into new spaces provided by a combination of words.
Once I realized I could also read about people, I think that’s when everything changed with the outlook I had on life in general. Up until a certain point, science fiction and fantasy tales were a central focus for me. But then, I began reading about Malcolm X. His autobiography written by Alex Haley extended to me, new eyes. And then Octavia Butler rolled in and said, oh wait, but you need these eyes as well.
I questioned why I was not in school learning about these people and central events that paralleled with the Eurocentricity of the curriculum. Never, an answer and I feel in this conversation with Bell Hooks and Beverly Guy-Shetfall, Bell Hooks explains why reading is paramount and the access to literacy to become literate is a revolutionary act and tool.
Once you have access to books and the capacity to learn what is inside of them, you are then able to further understand, ask questions, and have a mind meant for inquiry and understanding so you can then decide who you want to be in life.
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