Consider these startling statistics from DoSomething.org:
- Two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of the 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare.
- One in four children in America grow up without learning how to read.
- Students who don’t read proficiently by the 3rd grade are 4 times likelier to drop out of school.
- Nearly 85% of the juveniles who face trial in the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, proving that there is a close relationship between illiteracy and crime.
- More than 60% of all inmates are functionally illiterate. Over 70% of America’s inmates cannot read above a 4th grade level.
- Teenage girls between the ages of 16 to 19 who live at or below the poverty line and have below average literacy skills are 6 times more likely to have children out of wedlock than girls their age who can read proficiently.
In my humble opinion, one of the most important things a grandparent can do is to encourage grandchildren to read, read, read!
Finding good books for youngsters to read is fairly easy. But what about the tween or teen adolescent grandsons? Sometimes, that is not as easy.
S. E. Hinton’s book That Was Then, This is Now is a book that I believe will appeal to grandsons. (I believe that granddaughters will enjoy it, too, but since the main characters are boys that makes is appealing to boys.)
The book is about two boys, Bryon and Mark, that have been best friends since childhood. Mark moved in with Bryon after Mark’s parents shot each other in a fight.
Bryon and Mark spend their spare time hustling at a local pool hall to earn money — and beating up people and defending their friends from beatings.
There are two local gangs — the greasers and the socs (short from socials). As an interesting side note, Hinton’s purpose of these gangs is a social commentary on things. In today’s world, they would be considered cliques rather than gangs. Her gangs aren’t violent like the gangs of today.
Byron’s ex-girlfriend starts a fight and Mark accidentally gets hit over the head with a bottle. After Bryon and Mark hustle some Texans in a pool game, the Texans wait for them outside intending to beat them up. Charlie, the bartender, stops the fight but accidentally gets killed.
Mark comes up with a clever way to get even with Bryon’s ex-girlfriend. I’m not going to say what happens but it is definitely an interesting way to get even!
Then there is Cathy, Bryon’s new girlfriend, and her little brother, M&M. Cathy and M&M’s father doesn’t treat them very good. M&M runs away only to end up in a commune with hippies. Then Byron discovers a stash of drugs under Mark’s mattress and realizes that Mark is earning money by pushing drugs. He faces the horrible dilemma of whether or not to turn his best friend in to the cops.
Even though this book was published in 1971, it is still appealing to young adults. The themes of friendship, honesty, preserving honor, family relationships, and using drugs are addressed in the book. And so is the need for ‘wheels’ which definitely speaks to boys who are interested in cars. These themes would be good conversations that you could have with your grandchildren when they read the book.
I thought that grandmothers could also have a fun time making a bookmark with their grandkids. Because this is such a good book for boys, I thought that it would be good to make a more masculine type of bookmark. (Read that to mean without lace, ribbons, hearts or flowers, and the color pink.
There are 2 different styles of bookmarks that will appeal to grandsons. The first is just a simple rectangular one. To make it, you’ll need some cardstock, some Duct Tape or washi tape, and some scissors.
Cut out a rectangle from cardstock that is 1 inch wide and 5 inches long.
Select the tape you want to use. Put a strip of it down the middle of the card stock on both sides and trip the excess tape. I used Duct Tape on this one.
And you are done! (The red one uses a piece of white card stock and is totally covered with the red and white washi tape.)
I thought about punching a hole at one end and then adding a ribbon tassel on it. But, I’m not sure a boy would really appreciate that. But, if you made some with a granddaughter, you could totally add a ribbon tassel!
Another easy style of bookmark is the corner bookmark. To make these, you just need an envelope, some scrapbook paper, scissors, and glue.
I measured 3 inches from one corner on one side and then 3 inches from the same corner on the other side. Then, I drew a straight line between the marks and cut along the line to get a triangle shape.
I used that to trace the triangle shape on scrapbook paper and cut out two pieces.
Then, I glued the scrapbook paper onto the triangle that I cut from the envelope.
Ta da! Here is the bookmark. (Note: I read That Was Then, This Is Now on my kindle. So, I grabbed a library book that I had checked out so that I could take pictures of the bookmarks on an actual, real live book.)
When I finished with these, I thought that I’d use the washi tape and make a corner bookmark. I cut out a corner of an envelope and then added strips of the Duct Tape to it. I trimmed off the overlapping tape. It took less than 2 minutes to make this. (I liked that the Duct Tape wash shiny!)