In my younger days, I thought of the term literacy as being able to physically read a written piece of work. I thought the ability to read was when an individual could actually pick up a book, magazine, or even the daily news, and have the ability to understand the collage or words on the page. Most believe that this simple understanding of what words are on the paper is all there is to know about reading. But what most people do not know, is that there is a much deeper meaning behind the word literacy.
Along with being able to actually read a piece of literature, there is also having the ability to determine what that piece actually means or the overall message behind it. This helpful but yet difficult skill to attain is the ability to analyze. Many individuals tend to leave the process of analysis out of the equation when discussing literacy abilities.
Some also over look the fact the knowledge gained through reading can be applicable to life in general. Consequently, these talents are not just acquired overnight. Learning to read and understand written words and languages takes time, as there are many more parts to literacy than one would imagine.
Although learning to read can prove to be difficult, even for the smartest of children, everyone has to start somewhere. For me, my journey began when I was in kindergarden. My teacher, Mrs. Kroon, had a clever trick to help teach her students how to read. She believed that learning to read starts off with becoming familiar with the alphabet and learning what sounds and noises each letter can make. With the help of her blow up alphabet heroes, she was able to teach my classmates and I how recognize each letter of the alphabet.
She also helped the class relate a sound or set of sounds to each different letter. At the time, I had no clue what the significance of learning these letters was. But since learning about the letters was taught in an appealing matter, I was able to pick up on it pretty quickly. Every day my fellow students and I were introduced to a new and exciting alpha-hero as Mrs. Kroon called them. We focused the majority of class on learning about the letter, learning how to say it, and of course how to write it. Day in and day out we would learn more and more about these exciting letters and by the time the end of the school year had come, we had seen each letter multiple times.
We had also learned how to put these letters together into words. Little did we know this was the start to a long journey in the world of reading. The question I always asked myself is why is this significant to me? What was so important about these letters that I had to spend the majority of my time in school learning about them. Sure, learning about each hero was fun as it appealed to my love for super heroes, but at that young of an age I was not able to comprehend why I was learning about these different symbols.
It was not until first grade when I actually learned to read that I discovered why so much of my time was spent on these symbols. Every day before class started, our entire school participated in a silent reading period for approximately twenty minutes. During the first few sessions, I was puzzled while I was reading and often found it difficult to understand the puzzle of words in the books. As our teacher worked with us more and more on pronouncing and identifying words, I started to catch on to the material. I would look at a book and for some reason I could understand what the book was saying.
It was almost as if the words jumped right off of the page. Shortly after, I was able to pick up many different interesting books and successfully read them to myself. It was like I had acquired a super power; I was able to read! I had developed a skill that most children struggle with for years. I was one of the fortunate ones. Everyday after this realization I became more fascinated with this exciting new discovery. I would read for hours on end just because I could. Its safe to say I was one delighted first grader. And that is where I thought the journey ended.
I had learned to read, but the significance of all this reading nonsense had me puzzled. Year in and year out our classroom instructors put a strong emphasis on reading and I could not understand why. It seemed as if the only new benefit to reading was an extended vocabulary or reaching higher reading levels. This may have been the goal at the time being, but it was not until my junior year that I built on my childhood reading foundation. Unfortunately by this age I had lost most of my interest in reading.
This made one of my literature classes very difficult, as we were asked to read a variety of written works. As a class, we were also asked to “analyze” the readings for deeper meanings. At first I had quite a rough time learning to discover these hidden messages, but as I practiced I became familiar with the process. I came to find that these messages were all around me. For example, after analyzing the childhood story The Hare and the Tortoise, it is evident that the message or moral behind the story is for one to take their time when completing a task as “slow and steady wins the race.
” With each passing day, I became increasingly familiar with this new found talent and analyzing written works was no longer a hassle. Not only could I find the overall message in a piece of literature, but I had also acquired the ability to support my argument with evidence from the written work. This concept of analysis seemed to be the icing on the cake in the concept of literacy, but little did I know I still had more to learn. Although I have come far in my literacy journey, it has taken me almost nineteen years to realize that a reading journey is a life long process.
The lessons we learn through the process of reading and analyzing can be used in everyday life, even when one is not actually reading. I have learned that many of the things I do daily involve reading or analyzing whether I know it or not. Simple gifts such as having the ability to tell what mood a friend is in, or whether or not an outfit is appropriate for school also relate to the acts of reading and analyzing. Likewise, when a person can tell what type of a mood another person is in because of their body language, that is in fact reading.
The individual is analyzing the other’s behavior in order to discover the mood of their colleague. The same concept can be applied to making choices. Within each different decision an individual makes they weigh out the positives and the negatives of each option and then choose what to do. Some may call it decision making, but it is also a type of analysis. Each option is carefully analyzed before a decision is made which proves that humans including myself use these types of strategies everyday. Just like analyzing a piece of work, guessing another persons mood or feelings takes practice.
The more an individual takes the time to analyze a situation or person, the easier the process becomes. It is very interesting to truly see how many valuable lessons and skills can be acquired through reading. Even though my journey in the world of literacy is not quite over, I have learned a great deal of information about myself through reading. From kindergarden to high school I have been able to overcome each step on the path to reading success which has lead to a great deal of knowledge.
Along with learning to read nearly any book that is thrown my way, I have also learned how to find deeper meanings in literature and in life. Many of concepts in which I choose to believe in such as “being yourself” and “never giving up” have been discovered through reading.
I know I have much more to learn about the world of literature and reading and I cannot wait to see what lies on the road ahead. I hope that throughout my college days I am able to make many more discoveries about myself and the world around me. I truly believe that these types of discoveries and lessons shape us into who we are. Without successfully learning to read and analyze, I would not be the person who I am today.