My Textual Lineage
Growing up as a middle-class, white girl, I enjoyed a "cocoon" of literacy support, starting with caring parents within a supportive community. I remember my parents reading aloud to my sister and me often at bedtime, and I have many happy memories of storytime at the Iowa City Public Library.
The Wishing Well was the first book that I could read independently, probably around first grade. The story itself doesn’t stand out in my mind as much as the fact that it had a hard cover and short “chapters,” which made it seem very grown up to me. I read it to myself over and over, and the fact that I could read it independently made me feel like “a good reader.”
The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein, was my sister’s favorite book. Before she could read, I read it to her over and over again. I thought this was just what big sisters were supposed to do. I liked the book, but it was more important to me that she LOVED it.
I was a huge fan of Annie! The neighbor girls and I would have contests singing or lipsynching her songs. Since I had curly hair and freckles, I was often placed in the role of Annie. Before I went to the movie, I read the book of Annie (the movie's version). At the movie, I remember being scared when she climbed up the railroad tracks, but I felt secure knowing the ending.
With this same group of neighbor girls, I got some writing practice. We wrote grocery lists when we played "store," we drew pictures and wrote notes under our basement stairway, and we even made maps and notes listing rooms in a bunch of bushes that we called "Iowa Woods."
At about fifteen, I graduated to "Seventeen." In college, I graduated to "Glamour." These magazines gave me all of my hair and makeup tips (although they had more tips for girls who had straight, not curly, hair!), along with tips about dating and insight into a "guy's mind," which seemed like foreign territory. They were fun and breezy to read. Because, hey, who doesn't need a little bit of "Glamour" in her life?
Romeo and Juliet
The Scarlet Letter
To Kill A Mockingbird
A few I remember reading on my own during high school:
Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry
The Diary of Anne Frank
I felt like I was good in French, and our French teacher told us that the best way to read it was in context, in a magazine or newspaper. At the time, there was a store downtown that sold French magazines, so my parents bought me a few for Christmas one year! I couldn't understand ALL of it, but I was so excited that I could understand ENOUGH of it to make sense! Oh la la!
After eighth grade, my best friend, Amy, moved away to Georgia. Since we weren't old enough to keep in touch with frequent phone calls (there was a long-distance charge back then!), we began writing letters to each other. This continued until after college, when we both started jobs. I wish I had saved more of Amy's letters. It kept us in touch enough that I was in her wedding. Unfortunately, with the advent of Facebook, we began being to rely on that instead of handwritten letters, and it has changed the way we correspond.
At various times in life, starting after high school, I've also saved letters from special people or at special occasions: high school and college graduations, and letters from friends, relatives, and boyfriends.
My first grade class introduced me to Junie B. Jones. She is my favorite children's book character, because she's funny and she definitely has VOICE in her books! "Wowie wow wow!"
The Polar Express became a favorite when the gym teacher asked if she could read it to my class at Christmastime. Her own sons were teenagers by then, but she had such fond memories of reading it to them. After that, I have always appreciated the powerful emotions this story creates, and I will forever associate it with Valerie.
Present Day: Graduate School
In college, word processing became an important part of writing papers. I also learned how to email during college. Now I am on Facebook to keep in touch with people.
In grad school, I've had to learn to use some more computer programs. I've practiced making a couple of slideshows, Scoopit, and this Smore. Ever since I've been a young child, I've felt like I was "a good reader and writer," partly because I had the mechanics down. However, as computer literacy becomes more important, I feel like I am slightly behind, and I need to "catch up" in order to use the new literacies. Perhaps I'll feel proficient in computer literacies, too, someday, but I can't quite say that I'm there yet.