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Mikayla Martin Professor Raymond English 1103 9/14/2013 Reading, Writing, and Me When starting this class I had never even heard of the term literacy narrative. What does it mean? I asked myself, better yet why does it matter? After doing a little research I found out that all a literacy narrative is, is a story about yourself; a story of how you learned to read and write. Pretty simple right? Well for two reasons exactly this concept was extremely hard for me to grasp, first of all I do not like writing about myself in the least so bear with me as this essay goes on, and secondly there have been so many different people and events that have influenced my literacy that it was very difficult to determine which to write about and which to leave out. But I guess the most logical of choices would be to start at the beginning, right? So here it goes. When I was younger I did not like to read, I despised having to sit down and focus on something I did not care anything about. When my teachers would assign reading assignments I would try my very best to get around it; getting my mom to sign off on my log without actually reading was the most common one. The only time I had anything to do with books was when my dad was reading to me; the earliest memories I have is of us, my dad, sister, brother, and myself, sitting together listening to him read the Harry Potter Series. Its one of my favorite stories, and I have reread each of the books more times than I can count. In my family Harry Potter is a big deal, weve seen every movie, read every book, our office is decorated with Harry Potter memorabilia, and we have even been to the Harry Potter theme park at Universal Studios. I remember one year my brother, dad, and I stood outside The Book Worm half the night, in our

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pajamas waiting for the release of the fifth novel. Harry Potter was one of the only books that I would read without being forced to. Having my family involved made me that much more eager to read. When I began middle school my opinions on reading had not changed that much, but when I was in eighth grade a friend told me about this book called Twlight; at first I was skeptical, it sounded girly and mushy and I was not interested. I started hearing about it from more and more people, saying how amazing it was and so, I decided to give this Twilight a shot. Little did I know that this book, not even that good of a book either, would kick start my literacy narrative. I read twilight in two days and the next two books in three more. I raced through them, reading whenever I got the chance; in choir I would put the book behind my sheet music, and in math I would read on my lap underneath the desk. Something in this book had intrigued me and I could not get away, I had finally found my niche in the reading world. After Twlight, I was reading more and more books; most of them were fantasy and romance novels, but I also read sci-fi and some historical fiction ones. My mom, who was not too keen on reading either starting checking out some of the books I had finished, and soon she was as in love with reading as I was. We would read books, then trade with each other, and stay up at night discussing everything in the novel. This connection reminds me of Sherman Alexie and his dad, and how reading all of his books had brought them closer together. In the reading he says, My father loved books, and since I loved my father with an aching devotion, I decided to love books as well(Alexie). It seems that books had the same kind of effect on my mom and me; we have never been closer than we are now and it is because we were able to bond over reading.

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Throughout the rest of the year I spent all of my time reading, just like August from the Secret Life of Bees. It mentions in the novel that during her special month her heart had desired to read books, so she was excused from chores and got to stay up an extra hour reading every night (Kidd 136); just as I would come home, finish my homework and chores, then read for the rest of the night. At school you could find me in the library, before class, at lunch, whenever I had a free couple of minutes I was there. One year I even skipped out on watching the ball drop on New Years because I was too caught up in a good part of a book. I remember my friend getting mad at me as I sat on the couch shooing him away. Are you kidding me? he kept repeating. But I didnt care all I wanted to do was read. As I got older my love for reading slowed down a little bit, I still read quite often but I was in high school now and I had a lot more homework than I did in middle school and a lot more friends. It was hard to balance school, friends, and my love of books. One thing that helped was actually being interested in the books that were assigned in class. We read things like 1984, Brave New World, Dracula, and Enders Game. Being the sci-fi nerd I am it was great to be able to read a book I liked and get my homework done at the same time. My high school English classes had a big influence on my literacy narrative also, as you can tell I was doing pretty well with reading but my writing, not so much. One teacher especially helped change my views of reading and writing and pushed me to become the student I am today. She did not just teach the material, she went above and beyond to make sure we understood it and knew how to do it on our own. It was one of the few times I had ever had a teacher who actually cared about what she taught, and that definitely made a difference. She always said, It isnt the quantity, but the quality that matters. Her class not only changed my

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writing, but also my perspective on writing, I even use some of the resources and tricks that she taught us in my writing today. Growing up in the time of technology has also had an impact on my literacy narrative, I have noticed over the years that the more I am online the more negligent I become. Because of social networking I was losing a lot of my grammar habits and began writing in short hand. I would catch myself writing u or r in my essays and it drove me crazy. I am a total grammar Nazi and I hate when other people do not use correct grammar, so realizing that I myself was letting the world of social networking get to me, was disappointing in the least. I began concentrating specifically on my writing when I was online, making sure I used correct grammar, punctuation and spelling. The only way to kick the habit of short hand was to be correct everywhere, even online where it does not always matter. Every time I post something on Facebook or Twitter I make sure that it is correct, and I no longer catch myself writing shorthand in my essays and assignments for class. I keep asking myself, whats the big deal with literacy narratives? Why does understanding how I learned to read and write even matter? After some thinking and the writing of this essay, I have come to realize that your literacy narrative actually does matter. My literacy narrative has made me who I am today and it is a huge part of my life. Being literate means that you can communicate with others get ideas out and share things. My literacy narrative has allowed me to do these things, to be a working member of society and let my voice be heard. If I was not literate I would not have been able to sit here and write this essay, just how Malcolm X was not able to write letters in prison. He was illiterate for over half of his life and when he finally wanted to communicate with people he couldnt. Everything he read was like a foreign

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language, and when he spoke he could never find the words he wanted to say. If he had gone to school past the eighth grade his life may have ended up differently. (Malcolm X) If it werent for the things that make up my literacy narrative, like Harry Potter and my high school English teacher, I would not be the book loving, sci-fi movie watching, nerdy college student, that I am today. Our literacy narratives defines us, and help to show others who we are and what we like. Not only are they an extremely important part of our education, but they also have a huge influence in our lives as well.

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Works Cited

Alexie, Sherman. The Joy of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me. McQuade, Donald, Ed. The Writers Presence: A Pool of Readings, Fifth Edition. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2006. 73-76. Kidd, Sue Monk. The Secret Life of Bees. New York: Penguin Books, 2002. Malcolm X. Learning to Read. Web. 1 Aug. 2013.