Sunday, May 17, 2009

What About the Children

This week’s “Business Question of the Week” focuses on our next generation. Rochelle Frazier from Memphis, TN asks:

Recently you began the Urban Literacy Project. What is the purpose of this project and how will it uplift youth?

Omar Tyree Responds:

A decade ago, in the limelight of my writing and publishing career, I was so bothered by a refusal of African-American males to read books of fiction, that my then agent barked at me, “Omar, look, men don’t read fiction! They just don’t. They won’t even read it if you give them the books for free! But if you are so concerned about them reading, then join a literacy foundation or something.” My agent was really pissed off at me, because I kept trying to write books that included the perspectives of men, even though the reading audience was nearly 90% women, and it was screwing up much bigger paychecks for both of us. So years later, instead of joining a literacy foundation, I decided to create my own, the Urban Literacy Project, to address the terrible reading habits of African-American and urban men at the youngest stages.

With the Urban Literacy Project, our goal is now to muscle our way into the public school systems nationally, and help the mostly female school teachers to utilize my 5 Key Components of Literacy - Reading, Writing, Thinking, Visualization, and Application, for not only the boys, but for ALL of the young readers. I want to help teachers battle against students who say they don’t like to Read by allowing them to understand that they actually Read with their Eyes, Ears, Nose, Tastes, and Feelings every day of their lives without ever touching a book. So imagine how much more they could Read with their minds when they finally do grab a book?

For those who say they don’t like to Write, I instruct the teachers to tell students that they Write every time they Speak, Move, or make any Facial Expression. Yes indeed, verbal expression, body movement, and facial expressions, as the term goes, “It’s written all over your face” are indeed methods of writing without touching a pen, a pad, a typewriter or a computer. So imagine how much more students can Write when they finally learn to utilize a pen, a typewriter, a computer, or even a cell phone to express themselves, because they actually write everyday of their young lives anyway.

Then I deal with Thinking, which we also do every day of our lives. But since my team wants me to keep my answers short, we will need to pick back up on the goals of the Urban Literacy Project next week. But if you want to learn more information on your own about the ULP, simply go to my web site @ and look up the Urban Literacy Project on my links page until I have a chance to finish this loaded question next week.

1 comment:

  1. As a teacher of older disadvantaged students (16-21) who are mainly low functioning readers I have to find material that they will enjoy reading initially. Next I slowly incorporate other forms of literature to challenge them. This is my first year teaching high school and I have been floored with the low reading levels of my students. This has to be the one of the most challenging years of teaching.

    Recently I taught a lesson on affixes and root words. One of my students began crying. He explained that had someone took the time to help him in previous years he probably would have been a better reader. This particular student is twenty years old and an African American male.

    I would love for my students to pick up a book and simply read it on their own. The year is already winding down and I am thinking of what will make next school year better for my students. I will be checking out your website.