Unapologetically A Book Nerd: A View Of Literacy From Real Life Experiences
By Zahirah Poree
One day in my English 3 class, my teacher asked my class, “What does literacy mean?”. Now, there was a sense of confusion that went around the room as we all thought, “What the hell is he talking about?” We all then proceeded to muster up some kind of definition for this word that we knew the components of, but not exactly what it was. Sure, literacy --obviously something to do with books-- we all read, that’s it right? Wrong. I left the class that day with multiple definitions for literacy, but it wasn’t until I got the assignment to write an essay such as this that I got the huge realization that I was in fact, stuck. I had the worst case of writer’s block for days until-
It hit me like a sack of bricks. It wasn’t the fact that I didn’t know what literacy was, or how to define it; it was that I already did. Literacy is around us everyday. Where there is a word, there is literacy. But literacy is something that’s been substantial in shaping me into the person I am today. Most people don’t know this about me, but I am a closeted book addict. I love to read, I love books, I love everything about them. It started when I was younger - probably around 1st grade - that I got into my first book series: Junie B. Jones by Barbara Parks. My mom loved books as a child, and after seeing her read so much, I decided to try and love them too. It was decidedly one of the best choices of my life. The moment I finished the first page of Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, I actually felt like I was going along with Junie B. to her first day of kindergarten, on the stupid stinky smelly bus. That was all I needed. The feeling I got from reading was like escaping to another world to experience life from another person’s perspective. Reading from then on was like my addiction. I went on to now own every single original Junie B. Jones book, and it just grew from there. My passion for reading grew like a wildfire in the woods, and each new book that I got whether it was a gift or one that I saved up for, just added to the flame.
It got so bad that I made it a rule that I had to bring a book every where I went at all times, especially at school. My school supported reading, and hosted annual book fairs. Books fairs are these events where an organization called Scholastic brings multiple mobile shelves filled with all these amazing, beautiful books, for all ages. I lived for these. I can’t say much that I liked about my middle school, but one thing I will never forget are the book fairs.
As the years went on, my love for reading lead me into reading everything, including dictionaries. I would sometimes get stuck on a “big word” and have to look up the definition. This caused my vocabulary to grow extensively, and also led to me developing a love for words- specifically spelling. When I was in the sixth grade, I competed in my school-wide spelling bee. My entire class was nervous and jittery because we were the bottom of the middle school food chain. Who expected us to even try to say a letter in this competition? We were up against the 7th and 8th graders, so we were fairly intimidated. As the bee went on, I spelled every word I was challenged with, at first shakily and meek, but then going on to being clear and confident. In the end, it was me and this one 7th grade girl. We had beat our fellow classmates and upperclassmen. It was complete bogus though. They gave me a “big word”, or one for me at the time. “Choreographer. C-h-o-r-o-e-g-r-a-p-h-e-r.” DINg! Shit. My heart froze. Then, “Lintel. l-i-n-t-e-l.” “Congratulations!” Complete bull right? So I won second place in my school spelling bee, which is was still a big deal, at least to the adults in my school and family at home.
The reaction I received from my peers and upperclassmen, however, was fairly negative. They were jealous that I beat out so many kids, and as a result I got bullied and teased a lot. I was labeled as a “nerd”, and a “book freak”. This made me feel like something was wrong with me , and I began to feel ashamed I tried to hide my feelings. I became so self-conscious about my fascination for literacy, which resulted in me pushing reading and spelling to the side, instead focusing more on getting the unwanted attention away from myself, and onto the next big thing. Reading was to be confined to only sometimes, and even later, almost never. Now I am a junior in high school with this assignment to write about literacy. During my class I could relate to the text Superman & Me, when the main character describes to the reader, “My father loved books, and since I loved my father with an aching devotion, I decided to love books as well.”. After reading that, the memories just came flooding back on how reading started for me, with my mom.. This is how literacy started for me, and ever since it has been a path of growth, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me from here.
~ "Laugh Yourself Silly with Junie B. Jones." Random House. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Nov. 2016.
~ "Scholastic Book Fairs - Schools." Scholastic Book Fairs. N.p., 2016. Web. 03 Nov. 2016.
~ "Www.dormanhigh.org." N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Nov. 2016.