Advanced Essay #2: Education of "Reading" the World


Writing this essay has affected me in a positive way as a writer. I feel as though my writing  became better and my vision for literature had been expanded. My goal for this essay was to change the way people think what it means to be educated in literacy. I’m very proud of this essay, I think it was very well written. I’m also proud of myself for finding a larger idea to touch on in this essay. In my last essay, I didn’t really accomplish this. To improve myself as a writer, I think I should remember to not write too many unecessary words. I tcan end to write extrenuiously. Overall, I’m proud of my work and I hope you will be too.


During the good ole days of my adolescence, probably 14 or 13 years old, I was watching TV and came across a show called, “Parks and Recreation”. It was my first time watching the show, and I just jumped into the random episode that was on. I didn’t know anything about the characters, so I had to “read” them to sort of understand what they were about. For example, one of the characters on the show, named April, has very dark and I-don’t-care-about-anything attitude about her. I learned this from intensely “reading” the way she spoke, acted and carried herself. Another example from the show is a character named Leslie. After “reading” the details of the way she talked, acted and did things, I understood that this character is someone who is constantly determined to get things done, wants everyone to be happy and can be way over the top at times.

I see this moment in my life as a form literacy. As you may know, literacy is a form of education. While watching “Parks and Recreation” for the first time, I was educating myself on who the characters were by “reading” them. Most people would say that I’m not educating myself; they’d say that I’m doing nothing more than watching non educational TV. But they are wrong. By “reading” these characters, I’m educating myself on who they are and what they’re about. There is more to education than just school curriculum.

In the Apartheid of Children’s Literature, Christopher Meyers finds out how old a child is just by examining his features: "I’m talking with a boy. He’s at that age when the edges of the man he will become are just starting to press against his baby-round face." Although Meyers doesn’t state the actual age of the child, his description of him entails that he is at a maturing age such as 12 or 13. In this quote, Meyers demonstrates the exact same thing that I performed when I first watched “Parks and Recreation”. In order to better understand who this little boy was, Meyers educated himself by “reading” the boy. Literacy has many forms, and being able to read people is one of those forms. This would classify as cultural literacy because culture symbolizes identity, and identity is what I was looking for when educating myself on the characters of “Parks and Recreation”.

Knowing how to “read” people, and or situations, is a great way to educate one’s self; especially if you don’t know how to read. In today’s society, high officials set the standard that being literate means just knowing how to read words. If you can’t read words, then you would be considered slow minded and unable to be educated. The fact that this is happening is unacceptable, especially when it comes to race. They are basically making them dumb by ignoring the intelligence they already possess. Just because a person isn’t literate in one way, doesn't mean they aren’t literate in another. Like I mentioned before, literacy has many forms. When Sherman Alexie was just a young, Indian boy in his story, Superman and Me, he was unable to read the words in the Superman comic book that he had. But, that doesn’t mean he was unable to read the story: “In one panel, Superman breaks through a door. His suit is red, blue and yellow. The brown door shatters into many pieces. I look at the narrative above the picture. I cannot read the words, but I assume it tells me that ‘Superman is breaking down the door.’ Aloud, I pretend to read the words and say, ‘Superman is breaking  down that door.’” (Pg 12-13) This quote emphasizes my idea that there is more to education than schooling because Sherman reads the comic book without reading the words. By “reading” the actions and situations in the comic book, Sherman then taught himself how to read. Looks like people who don’t know how to read words aren’t so slow minded as some people assume they are.

In fact it was from this point, of educating  himself on how to read, that Sherman was on the path to a bright future. Near the end of Superman and Me, Sherman grew up to become a very successful and well rounded adult: “Despite all the books I read, I am still surprised  I became a writer. I was going to be a pediatrician. These days I write novels, short stories and poems. I visit schools and teach creative writing to Indian kids.” (Pg 14)  This quote doesn’t really exemplify my claim, but it does support it. The quote points out that other forms of education, such as “reading” the world, can lead you to success just as much as schooling education.

The fact that Sherman grew up to be such a successful writer is a major feat, especially since he taught himself how to read. Like Sherman, not many minority youth are given the opportunity to get educated in literacy. So they would either learn about it in another way or not learn it at all. The high officials of today’s society, who are pre-dominantly white, set the standard as to what literacy is and who can be educated in it. When these high officials see minorities who don’t know how to read or write, they write them off immediately or give them very low quality education on literacy. Back in 2014 in an essay called The Apartheid of Children’s Literature, a man named Christopher Meyers saw the potential for greatness in young minorities, particularly black ones. He decided to educate them on a consistent issue with children’s book that is still a little relevant today. This exchange is between Meyers and a young, black boy: “‘So you’re telling me these are all the books published last year for kids?’ they ask me. ‘That’s a lot of books. That’s more books than I could read in a year.’

‘Yep, it’s a few thousand.’

‘And in all of those thousands of books, I’m just not in them?’


‘Are there books about talking animals?’

‘Oh, sure.’

‘And crazy magical futures?’


‘And superpowers? And the olden days when people dressed funny? And all the combinations of those things? Like talking animals with superpowers in magical futures ... but no me?’

‘No you.’


‘ Because you’re brown.’”

Meyers educated this child, and most likely others, on this topic by having them “read” over the world of children’s literacy. This agrees with my idea that there is more to education than just schooling because these black kids were educated on an issue that most schools wouldn't even touch on. These kids were being taught how to be aware of the diversity issues going on in the world of children's literature.

In conclusion, the education of literacy is very diverse topic. In this essay, I focused on the literacy of “reading” people and situations; which would fall in the category of cultural literacy. Most people would say that this type of literacy is not needed or unimportant, but I beg to differ. By being able to “read” people and or situations, you acquire a skill set that is very much used in politics. Which is “reading” issues/ situations and coming with ways to improve or fix the situations. So we, as a society, need to reevaluate how we view education. Because we could just be dismissing our future politicians and presidents.


Meyers, Christopher. "The Apartheid of Children’s Literature." New York Times. N.p., 15 Mar. 2014. Web. <The Apartheid of Children’s Literature>

Alexie, Sherman. "Superman and Me." Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 19 Apr. 1998. Web. 30 Oct. 2016. <>.