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Youth Literacy Justice Advisory Council Members Lead Professional Learning

Contributed by: Candise Hill, 313Reads Michigan Education Policy Fellow with Teach for America Detroit

Illiteracy is an epidemic in the United States, and there has not been enough work done to address the issue. Statistics show that individuals who can read at least at a high school level are less likely to be incarcerated, and more likely to be employed. With that said, there is thankfully an increasing effort to bring attention to our nation’s literacy challenges. 313Reads’ Youth Literacy Justice Advisory Council (YAC) has weighed in on the conversation. As a group of engaged youth who are leaders in their communities and passionate about literacy, some of the YAC members recently hosted virtual collective learning discussions that focused on relevant literacy-related topics. The YAC invited community members to join in on the learning and discussion to collectively explore the possibilities of making literacy curricula more accessible and more culturally relevant to our youth.

Pictured: Quan and Maddox Neloms

On April 18th, Maddox Neloms–an 8th grade honor roll student– and his father, Quan, led a discussion on Hip Hop and Youth Literacy. They highlighted the ways in which Hip Hop is an art form that encourages strong literacy through its incorporation of skills related to vocabulary, syntax, comprehension, and critical thinking, just to name a few. Maddox informed the group about various tools that educators can use in their classrooms to incorporate Hip Hop into their daily instruction. Some of those tools are included in the Resource List below. You can watch the recording of the conversation and learn more about how educators can employ the artform of Hip Hop music as a great tool for literacy.

Pictured: Khai Shahid
Pictured: Dr. Rosalyn Shahid

Khai Shahid is an 8th grader who was recently recognized as one of the Michigan Reading Association’s 30 under 30 honorees. She led a collective learning discussion on April 19th, accompanied by her mother, Dr. Rosalyn Shahid. They focused on the impact of book banning on literacy. Khai painted a picture of how the phenomenon of banning books in schools and libraries has seen a drastic uptick in recent years. Unfortunately, the books that have been banned the most frequently are ones that represent the voices and experiences of marginalized communities. Community members were able to discuss the dangers of making literature less accessible to students, as well as ways that folks can get involved in the fight against book banning. There are various tools on this topic noted in the Resource List below. The recording of the conversation is also available for those who want to learn more!

Hip Hop and Literacy Resource List

Book Bans and Literacy Resource List

Educator Resources

Parent Resources

Youth Resources


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