As youth author Ty Allan Jackson stands in front of a gym full of elementary school students, he is wearing a black shirt with bold white lettering with the words “Read of Else.” Students turn to one another, talk behind their hand. Why so bold? It’s simple, Jackson is passionate about the power of reading.
A New York Yankees fan and Pittsfield, Massachusetts native, Jackson traveled to Carver Dual Language School in Kansas City to inspire and share his message about the power reading during two presentations.
Jackson presented “Five reasons why you NEED to READ” to Carver’s third through sixth-grade students. As adults, we all understand you read to learn, to be knowledgeable and to be informed. However, as kids, many felt like reading was boring.
“I need your help counting down, can you all do that?” asked Jackson. “Let’s start at five. You need to read for… Exercise!”
Students laugh at a picture of a brain as it came onto the screen. While reading doesn’t beef up actual muscles in your brain, Jackson explains, it does make you smarter. Other reasons to read include confidence, entertainment and imagination.
As they tick down to number one, Carver students were excited about the last reason to read – no more chores. Jackson explained if your nose is in a book and mom asks you to do your chores, simply tell your parents “I’m reading right now.” Parents are often hesitant to make their children stop reading to do the dishes.
He took a quick breather and then the next group of students filed into the gym for his next talk, this time with kindergarten through second graders. Jackson adjusted this conversation to the younger crowd, reading his picture book When I Close My Eyes to the crowd, talking to the kids about the power of imagination. Once again, Jackson took time to personally sign each of the student’s copies of his book.
Jackson’s visit was organized by Carver Computer Teacher Dr. Vicky Smith, friends with Jackson. Once he agreed to travel to Kansas City to share his message and talk with the schools’ students, McLemore worked to secure sponsors to fund Jackson’s travel expenses as well as purchase copies of his books for every Carver student.
In addition to being an author, Jackson owns Big Head Publisher, the organization that has published his line of books. A literacy organization with an educational and socially conscious mission, Big Head Books’ goal is to expose children to the joy of reading by visiting schools, libraries, organizations and more. To learn more about Jackson and the organization, visit their website.
For more photos from the assembly, visit our Flickr page.