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Nichole Buchanan

Professor Jan Rieman

English 1103

September 14, 2010

My Path to Literacy

Looking back and remembering how I learned to read and write, I think, “Well,

that’s obvious. I went to school of course.” But digging deeper and trying to find the real

source of my literacy, who or what exactly taught me and supported me to read and write

and apply that knowledge elsewhere? Those people or objects are known as my sponsors

of literacy. Sponsors of literacy are “any agents, local or distant, concrete or abstract, who

enable, support, teach, model, as well as recruit, regulate, suppress, or withhold literacy-

and gain advantage by it in some way” (Brandt 407). I’ve had access to literacy for as

long as I can remember even from before kindergarten until now, with many supporters

along the way.

Early in my life as a child, my parents have always been my main supporters.

They bought me books, computer games, Hooked on Phonics workbooks, and anything

else you can think of to teach me to read and write before I even started school. I

remember as a child having numerous books. Even when I didn’t exactly know how to

read, I would pick up a book and make up stories from what I saw in the pictures. Little

by little, I could eventually make out a few words and before I knew it, I was reading

entire books. I was so excited about learning to read, that I read anything and everything I

could get my hands on. Riding in the car, I would read out loud all the signs and

billboards. I read so much, I’m sure my parents were beginning to get annoyed. Even if it
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was a little irritating, my parents never discouraged it. I remember playing computer

games called “Jump Start” that had spelling games and made learning even more fun.

One of my favorite games in the Jump Start series was a cooking game. I was to read the

ingredients and cooking directions and create a dish within the given time. By playing

that game, I learned how to read measurement abbreviations. I used that knowledge of

learning to read cooking directions and measure out ingredients to help my mother cook

meals in real life. My parents also supplied me with plenty of workbooks that taught me

how to spell out words and use them correctly in sentences. I think I found a lot more

enjoyment out of reading and writing than most children my age. I was just so fascinated

with books and eager to learn how to read at a very young age and I think I owe that to

my parents, who where constantly there to support me and provide me with access to

books and learning devices.

Although my parents were my main supporters, my teachers in school were a

major part of my education as well. As I moved from school to school over the years,

each school provided me with access to a library full of books and computers. There were

designated days each week where we would go to the library and computer lab as a class.

We kept a reading log where we took note of what we read and how long we read for

each night. There were so many choices of what we could read and we were encouraged

to read anything we could such as: books, poems, magazines, newspapers, online articles,

etc. We were also expected to write a short story or response daily. Usually we were

given a prompt or sometimes we could write about anything we wanted. During

elementary school is when my writing skills began to develop. Sometimes the prompt

would be a little boring, so without even realizing what I was doing, I experimented with
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fabricating my writing a little. Accelerated Reader was a program most of the schools I

went to participated in. Students were required to read books on a point system based on

difficulty and how well you did on quizzes after the book was completed. As your points

added up, there were different rewards given to students that met certain point ranges.

This reward system encouraged students in a fun way to read more and challenge them to

read difficult books.

As I reached high school, reading and writing wasn’t as much fun as it used to be.

We began having to read specific books not by choice, that I highly doubt any of my

peers would have picked up and read in their leisure time either. Reading became more of

a chore rather than something enjoyable. This is where my pleasure of reading and

writing went downhill. Everything was so structured and there was little room for

creativity. We weren’t assigned to write imaginative stories anymore. Instead, everything

was to be written as a formal essay, which is definitely no fun at all. Throughout high

school, the only escape I had from this bland, structured writing was a creative writing

class I took my sophomore year. I had a wonderful teacher, who pushed us to write

outside of how we were so accustomed to writing. She inspired me to find my love for

reading and writing again and showed us how to read things in a different light. She

taught us how to read poetry and find that there could be a variety of meanings for one

poem. I really enjoyed this class and I wish that this type of class was offered every year

of high school. That way other students wouldn’t lose enjoyment out of writing and


Over the years, I’ve had my ups and downs with reading and writing. I found so

much enjoyment out of it as a child and I owe that to my parents and teachers who I feel
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were my most important sponsors of literacy. They supported me throughout my years

and never discouraged me to expand my understanding of reading and writing. I’m very

thankful that I took advantage of the books, computers and other literary components I

had access to or I wouldn’t have the knowledge I have today.