This month, we’ve shifted gears: we aren’t directly paired up with a charity, but we have taken up a cause: literacy in the United States. This may not be something you think about on a daily basis, but literacy is critical to getting just about anywhere in life. “Literacy is essential to informed decision-making, personal empowerment, and community engagement,” says Dr. Bernadette Dwyer, of the International Literacy Association, and quoted in The Lifelong Impact of Illiteracy by Jennifer Gunn.
Don’t believe us? Think of all the things you do on a daily basis, both in the shop and in regular life, that require basic literacy:
Reviewing service manuals
Writing and reading emails
Creating estimates and invoices
Catching up on the news
Searching for that one meme with that fancy velociraptor
Reading for pleasure
Let’s talk a bit about that last bullet point. Reading for the sheer pleasure of it seems to be a hobby that’s fading in our fast-paced world, and that’s a terrible loss for us as human beings. Diving into a good book isn’t just about being swept away on an adventure, or even escapism; even fiction can introduce you to new ideas and concepts and open up your mind.
We were curious about the impact books have had on the heavy-duty industry, so we reached out to our community for their thoughts. We asked them three questions and received scores of wonderful answers. While we’d love to share them all, that would turn this blog post into a book, and we already have one of those for you! If you’re interested in what makes the heavy-duty community tick (in a literary sense), read on!
What book has had the most meaningful impact on you?
Most of us have at least one book that has left us profoundly changed. For some, that book appeared when we were young; for others, it landed in our laps (or on our e-readers/phones) after we became adults.
We had 16 mentions of the Holy Bible, largely because of the lessons it provides for living a good life and how thought-provoking it can be.
Our runners-up, with two mentions apiece, were The Giving Tree, Rich Dad/Poor Dad, and “Anything by Dr. Seuss.”
There was huge variation in other titles that impacted people. We had a good selection of one-off titles from the business world, like Women Who Launch and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. But there was plenty of fiction in there, too, including Little Women, The Complete Works of Shakespeare, and The Giver (which warmed this writer’s heart).
Is reading important to you, and if so, why?
The responses to this question were some of the most interesting we received! Yes, reading is important, one tech said, because “I read service manuals all day.” But beyond that, reading helps us learn about new things, or get away from the world for a little while.
“Reading is extremely important. It always [helps] to navigate life and experience or have experienced just like what is happening in the book. It opens up worlds we never knew existed.”
“Lately, [it] helps to take my mind off everyday chaos, and focus.”
“Yes, reading is very important to me and my family. Reading helps creativity and can transport the reader to another world and time.”
“Yes, it is a critical tool for learning and development. It opens up new worlds, places and cultures that otherwise would be difficult for people to learn about.”
How do you encourage others around you to read?
We weren’t sure what kind of responses this question would draw; unless you’re a teacher, or perhaps a parent with small children, you might not routinely think about encouraging others to pick up a book.
But you know what? Even sharing an article (or certain memes) with someone online encourages reading. Several of our respondents cited sending things across social media or email as their primary method of encouraging reading. But maybe more importantly, they recognized that someone else’s excitement is often enough to fuel the interest in a book.
“You share what you have read, tell people about a great story or an interest they have and give books as gifts. I give books instead of birthday cards.”
“I remind people that it is not only important to exercise your physical body but also your mind through reading!”
“I am constantly referring book titles and giving copies of books to colleagues and friends.”
The importance of reading to your children
Many of our respondents mentioned reading to their young children as a way to share and grow a love of reading. As it turns out, reading to your kids is pretty important—not only does it help you bond with them, and share an adventure through a book, it also gives them a head start in communication.
This study indicates that children who are read to steadily over five years have been exposed to over a million more words than their peers by kindergarten. Regular storytime can help kids build up a vocabulary and strengthen their communication skills. Honestly, reading anything to your kids—whether it’s your service manuals or an adventure story—has a whole host of cognitive benefits.
Introducing Truck Tales
In case you couldn’t tell by now, the crew at Fullbay is pretty interested in literacy.
We’re also aware that the industry is suffering from a shortage of technicians and maybe doesn’t have the highest profile. Heck, one of our recent podcasts with David Saline addressed the way the industry is pitched to kids (in short: poorly or not at all). Over and over, we hear the same thing: kids are encouraged to go off to college and head into STEM fields. The heavy-duty industry is rarely so much as mentioned.
But we need to get young people interested in the industry; the tech (and driver!) shortage is only going to get worse if the next generations have zero interest in diesel.
Because reading and books are such a vital part of developing literacy, we thought we could address those two causes with one project. That’s how Truck Tales: Dan the Technician came into the world. Truck Tales is the perfect way for parents in the diesel field to gently introduce their young children to what they do. Kids will meet Dan, a heavy-duty diesel tech, and follow him on a typical day at work while he makes repairs and performs regular maintenance.
No, he won’t be throwing the ring back into Mount Doom or grappling with an existential crisis, but he will help young readers learn a bit about the industry and how one person can play such an important part in it.
Do you read to your kids? If so, go ahead and check out Truck Tales: Dan the Technician. It’s completely free, and we’re pretty darn proud of how it represents techs and the rest of the industry.