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Austin Traylor Engl 1103-024 Professor Jan Riemann September 14, 2010

Literacy: The Cynosure of Brilliance
The development of ones literacy, while it continues throughout their whole life, is greatly shaped by the literate environment and their involvement with reading and writing at a young age. The human brain is like a sponge when it is young; it has the pre-disposition to learning a language and becoming literate in that language. Small children quickly pick up words and can begin to repeat them after hearing them for short amounts of time. Accents are developed depending on the area before too long as well. When the construct and learning capabilities of the brain are taken into consideration, it isspeculated that reading and writing are most greatly developed during ones childhood. Learning the essentials and basics of something is always the biggest step as you can add on to it from there. Such as in the case of math, if one does not understand the basic concepts of operators and mathematical equations then one cannot even understand the simplest problem such as 2+2=4. However, if we have those basics and essentials then we can slowly add onto that knowledge, expanding beyond our limits. In the case of the analogy this could be explained by adding more variable into the equation for a greater understanding, such as 2+2=4 becoming 2+2+2=6 or 2+2-2=2. In context to literacy this could be shown by the growth of one¶s vocabulary, or a growing understanding of grammar and punctuation usage. In order for this to happen one must be able to read or write and understand what they are doing when they do so. That is the reasoning behind literacy being considered a crucial skill to children and being taught to them at such a young age.

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When I was a childI was quite gifted in my environment when it came to learning and reading. When I started my schooling in Texas there wasn't a public library near me but my elementary school, Stuchberry Elementary, was a block down the road and allowed students to check books out. My mother was very pro-active with me when it came to reading and mathematics. I was taught to read before the rest of my class and began learning algebra and variables when I was young. She and my uncle were especially vocal in their opinions that I should read. Now take note that they never forced me to read as that could have been detrimental to me wanting to read later in my life. The only thing they would ever do, other than make sure I was reading, would be to scold me when I ended up playing more games and slipping in my reading. I don¶t really have a good memory of my years in Texas, what I spent time doing, or even what books I read; but the point remains however that I was able to access literature and learn from it - able to sate what thirsts I had for reading. Eventually my mom decided to move to North Carolina for specific reasons and we left my grandparent¶s house. I ±believe- I left in third grade. Now in North Carolina I've moved three times, but each time have been within a mile of a library. The first time I moved I ended up in Mooresville, North Carolina. It¶s a quaint little town 25 miles to the north of Charlotte. I spent up tosixth grade here. During that time I was competing for top of the class with four to five others from my year and actively participating in the Accelerated Reader program. I almost always had the most points when it came time to tally everyone¶s points, but I always tried to only stay a slight margin ahead of everyone because a little bit of competition is always good. That and I didn¶t want everyone else to give up being first and stop reading ha-ha. A few of the books I can remember reading during this time, other than the bibliographies, were books like Old Yeller and Big Red. At first I picked them up

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because they had dogs on the cover and I¶m a sucker for dogs. After a while of reading these books though I realized an important lesson: nine out of ten dog books end with the dog dying. At first I would always be extremely upset and it felt like I was burying my own dog. The emotions the books made me feel were extremely strong. Overtime I got hooked to that feeling and ended up reading fiction after fiction. The world of fiction was so much better at expressing ideas, creating imaginative worlds, or even making the reader experience emotions based on the choice of words and text. I was hooked. My reading range became diverse. To stimulate my brain I would read detective novels and thrillers like Nate the Great or Goosebumps. For those days where my imagination was reeling I would read sci-fi/ fantasy novels like Dune or the Redwall series. I was having fun everyday reading and attending classes. Then unexpectedly we ended up moving again. This time we moved all the way across Lake Norman, to West Lincoln. I was still reading and had access to books again, but I also got my own computer around that time, so I was able to read online and retrieve and store information from another source. My reading level was still pretty impressive, but was slowly starting to come to a halt. The new school didn¶t have an amazing selection in it library nor did it really use the AR system. I was disappointed. Even in the advanced placement classes I was ahead of everyone; by more than one course level. I wasn¶t being challenged at all. I grew bored of school and its redundant lessons. I turned more towards gaming and my enthusiastic reading turned into just me reading whatever fantasy books I thought looked interesting or my uncle suggested. I didn¶t make very many friends in West Lincoln; I can only remember four of them today. I was turning into somewhat of a secluded person. At this point I was beginning to ask myself what the point of really challenging

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myselfwas; what¶s the point of having exemplary reading and literacy? Then, out of nowhere our circumstances changed again and we moved once again. This time it was back to Mooresville. I was happy to an extent, it had only been a year so I figured it would be easy to reacclimate and go back to my old life style. School started again and I entered eighth grade. Nobody remembered me. The handful that did were people I never talked to much. It was hard. I wasn¶t the same person and neither was anyone else. While I was languidly sitting around doing nothing for a year the world had kept on spinning. The amount of time I spent reading and my study of literatures went up slightly upon my return, but never went back to what they were. I just couldn¶t bring myself to it anymore. We were required to read for classes and I enjoyed those texts, but it wasn¶t enough to encourage me. Eventually I would find books that were the greatest of their kind and it would encourage me to read again. For fantasy it would be The Epic of Gilgamesh, for suspense/thriller the Sherlock Holmes series. I began to read more after I read these texts, but again I was never at the same level. However, the language I had learned over the years and had picked up from the advanced books I had been reading made me realize how important language is. Language is such a wonderfully overrated thing. This led me to take four years of German and begin to learn other foreign languages. Finally literacy and literature wasn¶t just about reading or the story. There was depth to each word, each letter. It had never felt so good to analyze texts or read. It was then that I began to shape my definition of literacy. Now, I can go on and on about what I read and how it affected my literacy, but if I don¶t expand on what I have learned throughout this time and what I believe literacy to be then it would lose purpose. When it comes to what literacy is many people would just define it as the ability to understand a language, read and write in that language, and also be competent in a mental sense as to what you are saying. However in the context that I have been using literacy it

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is a broad subject covering things that I have learned from my studies, readings, and writings; such as mannerisms, societal actions, understanding, reading and writing, morals, and more. I believe myself to be somewhat of a traditionalist and lawful person. I value societal order and justice more-so then others, yet because of this I may seem distant or to have lower values on other aspects when compared with that of order and society. This may be due to my upbringing, or situations that have occurred in my life, but I can acclaim it partially also to my readings now and when I was a child. I also reason that my literacy background affected much of my academics. I started my reading experience with biographies on the great figures of history and politics. Seeing the way each lead their lives and how everyone was affected by the circumstances was a large inspiration to me and my studies. I have always been an A-B student and that is as I said mostly due to my strict familial expectations of grades and the literatures I read as a child. I consider all of these factors, and more, to being part of my literacy because in my sense of the word the definition of literacy does not deal only with an understanding or one subject, but rather I see literacy as an understanding of the world; of your environment. A literate person in my sense of the word is an ideal more so than a flamboyant definition. We are all free to our own ideals and goals, but to me one of many is merely being a person who has an understanding of his surroundings.

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I may put the word itself on a grand scale, on a pedestal higher than it should be, but I believe literacy to be a key to breaking barrier between people of this day and age. In this society of today, there are many things which are extremely important, but breaking barriers is one of the greatest ones. America itself is becoming so diverse and speckled with different languages and demographics that it becomes important to understand each other, or even attempt to understand each other; regardless of whether you can understand what they speak or not. If one cannot understand what is happening around him, then he may as well have wool pulled over his eyes. This is why it is my firm belief in the importance of each person having literacy, not to an extent where you have to understand the whole world but to a point where you can account for yourself and help those around you get on their feet if they are down. It is my goal however to have an understanding and literacy much deeper; a literacy that will help me to hammer through any obstacles that the world may present me with. Never again do I wish to stand still in my life and idly watch as the world continues to move ever onward.

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