In Support of Literacy

Bill grew up in a single-parent home in Philadelphia. His mother, whom he loved, had many kids and worked many jobs to provide for her children. They were poor, but united. Bill was the oldest. He passed every year of high school. His report card never raised a red flag…nor did any of his teachers.

Bill was a kinesthetic type of learner, but every time he was left to a task that required him to read instructions Bill failed to complete his task. That was because Bill passed through the school system without ever learning how to read or write. When he was found out, he was dismissed from even the most menial jobs.

Bill took to stealing. The money he made he gave to his mother for groceries or rent. He bought his sisters clothes.

During one robbery, he had been set up: the police were waiting for him. It sounds like a bad movie plot, but it was Bill’s reality. He went to prison, where he endured its unimaginable hardships. He also received a laser-focused education, and upon being granted parole, was released as a man able to read and write.

Until his untimely death due to cancer, he held down a job. He earned his money, paid his bills and conducted himself with tremendous integrity.

Although Bill didn’t offer the point in casual conversation, he never hid the fact he went to prison. He spoke to children in his community about the importance of literacy and a proper education. “Don’t take the long route, like me,” I often heard him say.

Bill never felt that he was a victim. I never heard him blame anyone else for the choices he made. But he often told me that had he as a child learned to read and write he would have taken his life in a different direction.

Every person deserves the opportunity to take their lives in the right direction. Everyone deserves literacy.

I believe in supporting literacy through access. 3% of the gross sales, in perpetuity, of Maggie MacCormack and the Witches’ Wheel will be donated to:

Kaja Blackley is the author of Maggie MacCormack and the Witches’ Wheel Wheel is on sale now: