Failure to communicate

Good day, kind readers!

Steven R. Covey once wrote, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand: they listen with the intent to reply.”

I would add to that by saying that most people read the newspaper with the intent to understand, but not with the intent to reply. In other words, the authors who submit their writing to a newspaper, do so knowing that they are unlikely to receive feedback.

This reality has been difficult for me to become accustomed to. When I was a classroom teacher, my job was to deliver information while constantly evaluating how that information was being received and making adjustments to my message so that it would be better understood. Unfortunately, while I enjoy and appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts on literacy, I long to know what readers are thinking.

If truth be told, there have been those moments when I hear, “I read your column.” While I smile and genuinely express my thanks, I feel a bit like the chef who spends hours preparing a gourmet meal, only to be told, “I ate your food.” Or maybe a better metaphor might be if people read a newspaper in the forest and no one makes a sound, did they really read it? Ok, that was not better, but hopefully, you are getting my point.

While it probably sounds like I’m complaining, that is not my intent. I share these thoughts so that you the reader know why I end each column with a question and a request that you respond to it. Think of me as the radio host of a call-in talk show, without the phone, or the radio station!

Stone Soup Literacy was “born” 10 months ago, and my first column appeared in mid-April 2017 with the mission of promoting literacy from a community perspective. I hope that more and more of you do understand why we as a community must be doing more promoting of literacy and perhaps even taking action. I think of this column as a product that should get better and better with time, but I cannot improve without you.

I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge and heartily thank those of you who have shared kind words and sent emails. I would love to hear from you again! I must send out a very special thank-you to a family friend and neighbor of mine throughout my childhood. Pat, you made my heart sing when you shared with my mom that you not only bought your grandchildren books for Christmas but also encouraged their parents to make sure to take time to read to them.


Here are a few of the topics that will appear in future columns:

r Book clubs and book swaps

r Tools to help you get more from your reading

r Journals of all kinds, with a focus on family journaling

r How to make an old book new, or rather how to get more out of a familiar book

r Tips on how to become a better reader

r Tips on how to become a better writer

r Literacy and poetry

r Literacy and music

r Literacy and theatre … and more.

Malcolm X said, “When ‘i’ is replaced by ‘we,’ even illness becomes wellness.”

What would you like to read about? What changes have you seen or been a part of in our community that supports literacy? I cannot do this alone, but WE can do so much. Email me at


Kathy Gephart is a retired public school educator and the founder of Stone Soup Literacy ( whose mission is to build readers, one community at a time. Email Kathy at