March is National Reading Month, a whole month designated to encouraging Americans – and by extension Wacoans – to read! The Act Locally Waco blog is beating the drum for National Reading Month by hosting a blog series throughout the month of March, called “Books Matter.” Every day throughout March we will be sharing a post about a Waco resident and a book that matters to him/her. Thank you to students from the Baylor Department of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media and professor Amber Adamson for help with this fun project. To read all the blog posts so far, click here.
By Amy Rickabaugh
Many people may take literacy for granted, but for Waco Councilwomen Andrea Barefield, reading is the only foundation for growth as a community.
The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni is a book that means a lot to Barefield, as it has been with her since she was in middle school.
“I have been able to find myself in the multiple stages of my life within the pages of this book,” Barefield said.
The sections of this book dedicated to strength and empowerment, especially of African Americans, are some of Barefield’s favorites.
Barefield points out a particular poem in the book called “Ego-Tripping” and says that “if when you read that poem you don’t believe in yourself, forget about it. There is not an opportunity for people to tell you that you are anything but fabulous.”
This is something that Barefield said she needed to hear when she was a young, impressionable, middle school girl.
During these younger years, Barefield experienced the importance of getting her questions answered and following her curiosity about what she was seeing in the world she was growing up in.
“Escaping in literature is one way we can go to the other side of whatever our curiosities are,” Barefield said.
She encourages readers that the pages of a book aren’t judgmental, and they allow questions without blaming the reader for ignorance.
“Reading authors that write about cultures that you are unfamiliar with is the way to really have your questions answered without having to deal with the grey matter of people,” Barefield said.
Barefield was raised by educators, who were raised by educators, so reading has been fundamental for her throughout her life. She says she knows that humans cannot do anything without a foundation. Barefield believes that the foundation of reading is the development for growth.
“Literacy and the importance of stimulating your mind is the only way foundationally we can grow and do anything else,” Barefield said.