Author Ramon “Absoloot” Robinson partners with the Community Education Alliance to Read to Youth in the “Reading is Lit!” Initiative
In late 2019, Ramon “Absoloot” Robinson, singer, songwriter, and author of children’s books; including the Adventures of Junior and Rubble series, designed “Reading is Lit,” an incentivized reading enrichment challenge. It features books written and illustrated by and for young African American students. The “Reading is Lit” (RIL) initiative was originally intended as a five month reading challenge in partnership with the Community Education Alliance (CEA), the schools they serve, and the youth at the New Mount Olive Baptist Church (NMOBC) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Through literacy, mentorship and culture, the CEA works to improve the education and lives of at-risk children.
The “Reading is Lit” (RIL) Initiative
The began November 3, 2019 with a kick-off activity to design custom bookmarks – the “Lit Mark.” The same week, during NMOBC’s Meaningful Mondays Tutoring Ministry, the comic, Pastor Davidson: Fear and Anger, was the featured story to commence the RIL initiative. Fear and Anger are portrayed in this story as physical manifestations with which a teenager must do battle. Following the reading, a Q & A session with Pastor Davidson of the NMOBC was initiated with participants from both the church and community, to discuss the book as well as share how they face fear and anger.
To further the initiative, a comprehensive book list was created on Amazon for individuals wishing to purchase and donate books to the “Lit” library. This list featured books by local authors, as well as books written by and for Black youth. The complete list can be found here. Over 100 books were donated, and in February 2020, the official presentation and ribbon cutting for the “Black Excellence/Lit Library” was hosted.
Reading toward Empowerment
The RIL initiative utilizes creative activities, giveaways, and readings to emphasize the importance of reading. Since the inception of the initiative, the CEA, in collaboration with Ramon “Absoloot” Robinson, have provided activities for youth of all ages at the NMOBC and within CEA schools throughout Broward County. These included in-person readings, Q & A sessions, and creative activities and giveaways with four of the local RIL authors.
In early 2020, Absoloot created and presented a customized comic for Dillard High (6-12), one of the 6 CEA schools. The story, Will Pouer, is about a teen whose father has been lost traveling through time. Though it is an action-adventure story, it emphasizes the important of reading and how reading is essential to problem solving, knowing your history and so much more. This story was written to enhance, enrich and support 6th graders’ overall reading abilities with an eye toward helping to raise standardized testing scores. It included a glossary of vocabulary words used throughout the text and even dealt with core reading concepts such as conflict resolution.
Changes due to Covid-19
With the national shutdown of schools and the advent of stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines, the RIL initiative had to switch gears. Currently, children can enjoy a weekly read-along with Ramon “Absoloot” Robinson through various social media platforms. Both notable authors from the Fort Lauderdale community and award-winning, nationally known authors have been featured in the online read-alongs. The most recent read-along can be viewed here. In keeping with the idea of providing key core concepts, both vocabulary and brief comprehension activities are provided with each online read-along post. Participants also receive giveaways when they engage in the social media posts.
Both the CEA and Positivity Pays value the importance of reading and learning. Together, they continue to improve efforts to bring innovative learning opportunities to laptops, phones and tablets to ensure children receive enrichment during this most difficult time.