What’s the Fuss about Cursive? New Studies Link Cursive to Literacy

Have you seen BIC’s “Fight For Your Write” ad campaign? Yes, the corporate executives behind BIC pens hope to save handwriting.

Okay, so maybe their pitch is completely altruistic or maybe it is; that’s beside the point.

What is the point is that BIC -- the maker of BIC pens -- is helping everyday Americans learn about the connection between handwriting and literacy so that they can improve their children’s literacy.

And that’s huge.

After all, it was Oscar Wilde who said, 

If you cannot write well, you cannot think well; if you cannot think well, others will do your thinking for you.

Litworld Founder Pam Allyn Joins with BIC

What Wilde didn’t know back then is that if you can’t write well you won’t be able to read well. What a tragedy that would be.

The reason I’m interested in this campaign is because Pam Allyn, the Executive Director and founder of LitWorld – a global organization that shares best practices in literacy for all children worldwide – is the expert associated with BIC’s huge campaign.


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Allyn is also the Executive Director of LitLife, a national organization dedicated to improving academic achievement outcomes in literacy. And she’s the author of the award-winning Your Child’s Writing Life and other acclaimed titles for teachers and parents.

Allyn’s influence is wide, from The Today Show, CNN, and Oprah Radio, to The Huffington Post and The New York Times. In 2013, she was the recipient of the Scholastic Literacy Champion Award.

Who wouldn’t take BIC seriously with support like that? Allyn’s only interest is to improve literacy among our children, and that’s admirable.

This is how BIC explains the mission of this huge campaign:

Writing is an important vehicle for communication because it distinguishes us and promotes individuality. Did you know that writing is also a critical learning tool for children? Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. 

Documented Connection Between Handwriting and Literacy

What’s behind all this excitement about handwriting’s connection to literacy?

As reported by Handwriting for Literacy, some time ago Maria Montessori wrote that children who excelled at handwriting alphabet letters have no trouble reading. 

Other literacy experts have long touted the connection between handwriting and cognition. There are even brain scans to substantiate the studies.

What’s sad is that Common Core education standards – something teachers haven’t widely supported – dictate that cursive won’t be taught in elementary schools.

Fortunately, schools are fighting back. California, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Utah—are taking on the battle to keep cursive in the curriculum. 

Advocates promote the belief that "more areas of the human brain are engaged when children use cursive handwriting than when they keyboard."

It makes sense to me.

This concept of handwriting and literacy isn’t new. Studies conducted as far back as 1993 and 1995 connected students‘ ability to read words is interwoven with their ability to write letters and words. 

And there have been plenty of studies since that time to prove that handwriting isn’t just a motor skills exercise. The issue is much deeper and more important.

Does your child's school teach cursive? If not, join BIC’s campaign and contact your school to add your voice to the Fight For Your Write to learn cursive.

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Elizabeth B. Martin is the author and illustrator of six picture books for children. You can view her books here for free.