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Colby Wolffis


Literacy Memoir: Life in Words

Literacy; What is it? How does is shape us? How does it empower us? Literacy by
definition is the ability to read and write and understand those actions. There are many types of
literacy and there are many new types that are created. Some of it is due to the large expansion of
technology in todays age. This has caused the influence of literacy on each individual to be so
unique and personal. With the shift and growth of technology people are exposed to more types
of literary pieces and text that shape how we interact with the world around us. Looking at how
literacy has shaped my thought process and ultimately formed the person I am today, it is easy to
see how big of a role it plays into how society functions and how we function with society.
I learned to read at a very early age and was continually encouraged to read as I grew up.
Reading was very important to my father and so because of this he wanted me to be the same
way. He recently told me that my learning to read started with him reading to me every night
before bed. A few nights before I was to go off to school my father and I talked about my early
reading sessions and how for a whole year straight I chose to read a book called Sloths Birthday
Party by (INSERT AUTHOR). I think that there is something to be said about the fact that for a
whole year my father allowed me to chose the same book to read right before going to bed for a
year. Reading was a big thing for my family and I think that because of this they were very open
to the idea about finding something that you really liked and doing that. Some of the earliest
books that I did read where The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne. My first book

report was on one of the many that were in the series and I read these for quite awhile as I
broadened my vocabulary and became more literate. I am glad that I learned to like books at an
early age because I think that it has helped me realize that there is merit in everything that we
read and write.
Like stated earlier, I learned to read at an earlier age and I stuck with it causing me to
move past my age group reading level. Starting with The Magic Tree House Series, put me on a
path to explore new types of texts and literary work. The next series that I absolutely loved was
The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. This series was the first series that I
completely finished and throughout couldnt wait to get my hands on the next book. I liked the
series so much, that I actually caught up with the authors release dates and ended up waiting for
the last three books of the thirteen book series on release days. What I have learned most recently
about my reading pattern is that I really do love to read and write but it has to be something that I
am passionate about. I will go all in if it is something that I agree with and understand. That is
what makes a difference in what I read and write, I think that it can be said for a lot of people
that the same thing applies for them.
When I was a child I grew up in a Christian home where we went to church every Sunday
and had small group meetings every Wednesday. Because of this, I wasnt allowed to explore
foreign religious texts or certain books that may have denounced the existence of Jesus. One
series that I wasnt allowed to read were the Harry Potter series. This was strange to me because
most of my friends where allowed to read it and enjoyed the books as kids. As I grew up my
father would give me a sort of ultimatum, if I hadnt picked a book that I wanted to read he
would pick one for me to read and report back to him about the book. As much as I hate to say it
looking back on some of the books that he made me read, I genuinely enjoyed most of them. The

two most enjoyable books that I think I had to read are Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer and A
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. What is strange about these books, is that though they are
were forced upon me to read them, I really enjoyed them. This leads me to actually realizing
though just hoe much I actually did read as a child and how much it really influenced who I am
Like stated earlier, most of the first texts that I where exposed to was in my own home. I
think that this has set up an idea for me that the house is a place of intellect and academic drive.
With my father going to a big division one school from the big ten, he knew and stressed the idea
of a higher education from the get go. I think that that is the reason that I started to read at such a
young age. He started by reading to me, small books such as Dr. Suess books and small
childrens books. I remember too, my mother taking me to High Point City Library to check out
books, for me particularly the books on dinosaurs and informational texts. I have always been
been fascinated with both fiction and nonfiction as I have grown up readinga. As my reading
levels improved I remembered reading/struggling through some books like 10,000 Leagues
Under the Sea, Robinhood, and and a few more adventure type novels. Slowing things
transitioned from my father reading smaller childrens books to me before bed, to helping me
read larger classic novels, to becoming full independent in my reading because of the advanced
skill I displayed due to the exposer to the literary world in my early youth.
One thing that is abundantly clear after reflecting on my literary progression throughout
my life, is that my home fostered a very healthy level of encouragement towards literature. Both
my father, mother, for the first half of my life, and my step mother, all have college degrees and
love to read. Because they all had some sort of higher education, I never saw myself doing
anything other that going to college after high school and working toward bettering myself

academically. Even music and songs, different forms of literature where shown to me in
abundance by my parents. Countless hours where spent listening and singing along to songs on
the radio such as classic rock or 90s alternative. Looking back now it is almost scary how
similar my taste in music and books are compared to my father. I dont think that it is because he
forced any of the literature on me, but instead I grew up with the same values and preferences
that he did. One thing that made a huge impact on me in developing my own drive toward
literature in my home is the passing of my mother due to cancer. In the 2nd grade she was
diagnosed and in the 4th grade she passed, leaving a two-year gap where lots of my passion for
reading started to take root. With people, such as my father and family members, focused on
helping take care of my mother, I learned to really love literature on my own. I dont think that
this is a particularly bad thing in fact the opposite. It really showed my own drive and passion
that I saw in myself to read and expose myself to literature. I think that looking back the home
that I grew up in was one of the most nurturing safe environments to help grow my own opinions
and preferences to literature so that I could really explore my passions.
Looking back on others forms of literature as a child, I realize that most things that fell
into a literature category where encouraged. The only form of literature that wasnt particularly
encouraged was television or movies. I think that the fact that my parents didnt decide to get
cable television till I was older and that we were more of an outdoors family definitely played
into those factors. Because my mother was a graphics designer, drawing and art were a big thing
in the house. I remember going to art shows and small art galleries and my mother picking out
some of the abstract art, some that we still have to this day. I think that this demonstration of love
for different types of literature really helped me grow my own love for different arts and
literature. I enjoyed to draw and paint just like any other child, but until recently, early high

school, I found a real talent for photography. I have a natural ability to read and understand the
elements of photography in photos and can really hone in on what a photo needs in order to stand
out. One thing that I liked the most about photography is that it can say so much from just one
image. As I grew up I always enjoyed picture books and magazines, constantly picking up
National Geographic issues and looking at all the pictures from around the world. I think that
early fascination really set me up to love the aspects of photography and what it can bring to the
table when considering literature. Since learning and getting into photography I have won some
awards, nominations, and also been published. For me it really shows the emersion into all types
of literature and how it plays into who I am today. I like that I can appreciate a good novel, go to
an art show, or enjoy and nice stroll through Instagram and see all the really unique art type
pictures that people have taken. I think that a lot of the drives that I have now where fostered into
what they are now because of the things that I was exposed to as I progressed through life.
When I grew up I moved around a lot. This required me to change schools constantly and
learn new curriculums for the different school systems. This was interesting because
unknowingly at the time I was well ahead of most of my peers up until middle school because of
the fact that I stared at a private school. This set me up for a good solid foundation on which I
could read, comprehend, and report on some of the things I was reading. This advantage and
drive carried itself all the way up unto the point when even now I am in the higher UWRITE
1103. I think that the idea and to emphasis on literature as a kid growing up really showed me
what it can help with along the way. It is always interesting to compare myself to others who
may not have had the same exposure to literature at a young age and see lots of times the less
advanced kills and drive that I have procured.

Growing up in a typical suburban home with two parents with higher educations I think
that it is safe to say that I was privileged and that I was very lucky. The early development of
reading set me up to be able to explore other forms of literature at a quicker pace than others
around me. The exposure to music, art, and books grew a appreciation for all types of literature.
One thing that I think is also interesting is that because I lacked a real culture, one that stood out
and directly distinguished me, I was very open to learning about other cultures around me and
realizing that there are many types of literature. I think that it is important to learn about other
cultures and realize that we play a big role in how we effect others ideas of literature and
ultimately effect them as a person.
After going through this project it is abundantly clear that literature plays a big part in
where we came from, who we are, and what we will become. It is woven into every facet of the
world and it is something that we interact with every minute of every day. I think that looking at
my own progression in literature, I see that I was very privileged and I hope in learning this I
dont take advantage of my gifts and privileges.