May is GCR Month, Col. Chidley discusses why literacy is so important

  • Published
  • By A1C Katelyn Sprott
Growing up with a mother who was an English teacher meant Mark Chidley and his siblings were almost forced to read. However, by the time his junior and senior years of high school rolled around he realized reading wasn’t so bad. One author he connected with right away was Kurt Vonnegut, famous for his novel Slaughterhouse- five, he also found a passion for World War II non-fiction.
Now, Col. Mark Chidley, the 132 WG Vice Commander, finds time to read whenever he can. He believes that it instills a sense of discipline, among other things.
“It also makes you think more about what you’re consuming, rather than a TV show or a movie,” said Chidley. “It makes you do all the hard work of envisioning what it is they’re describing. And when there’s words in there you’ve never seen before, it forces you to go figure out what they’re trying to say.”
May is Get Caught Reading (GCR) Month, a program that was established back in 1999 by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and their goal is to remind everyone why it’s important to read and how much fun it can be.
The website,, stresses that research indicates that learning languages at a young age stimulates a child’s brain to grow. Which is why they encourage people of all ages to read and share those experiences with the children in our lives.
This is perfect since Chidley said he finds ways to keep reading a family affair. Especially with his wife, whom he just bought a Nook, and his daughter. Upon learning about GCR, which is focused, in part, on why literacy should be promoted, he took the opportunity to reflect on why reading is important not only among our youth, but the Airmen as well.
Chidley said that the kids growing up now have access to technology at an early age. While that’s nice to have because you can quickly look up facts, it’s just an overview of situations, thoughts and ideas. However, books really require readers to go in depth.
“If you read a 300 page book, you’re going to know a lot more than if you flip through a three page article online,” said Chidley.
Chidley said that reading books is going to generate internal questions and help Airmen be more intelligently skeptical about what they read anywhere. He believes it is important to have Airmen who are willing to think on their own, question intelligently what they're reading, and to be able to form their own opinions.
Chidley talked about how Col. Shawn Ford, Commander 132 WG, compiles and releases a Commander Suggested Reading Material list, with the help of fellow commanders. The most recent list consisted of 11 books that all focus on leadership, including Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, Second Edition by Kerry Patterson and The Mentor Leader: Secrets to Building People and Teams That Win Consistently by Tony Dungy.
While Chidley believes that the members of the 132 WG could maybe start to generate their own type of list, like a ‘What’re You Reading Now?’ He thinks that the easiest way to promote literacy among our Airmen is through supervisors knowing their Airmen and encouraging them to pick up a book.