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Megan Kelly
Professor Lynn M. Raymond
UWRT 1203
24 September 2015
On Isolation and Ingenuity
Learning to read and write is a process that typically doesnt come through self-discipline
and motivational habits. Of course, the usual Hooked on Phonics was an immense help to my
literacy levels, but thats beside the point. My personal literacy narrative is not one riddled with
the influences of a mother, father, or teacher, but rather one built upon choice and self-reflection.
Much akin to Lily from The Secret Life of Bees, my knowledge and skill level were under my
own jurisdiction and my written capabilities will always be under my control.
I cant help but think that we, as people simply trying to garner whatever scraps of
education we can, fall into loops that take us in very predictable directions. According to some of
our first-grade teachers, for example, books like Junie B. Jones and Captain Underpants are not
only what is expected of us to have read but, in a manner suggested with insufferable
condescension, those are the books that outline our immature capabilities. With the bar set low
with little appreciation for deviation, our literacy narratives can be shaped so simply by the
subtle suggestions of a teacher or scoffs of a librarian. How could a kid fall out of this almost
bureaucratic routine, then? Frankly, I dont know, but I like to think I did.
When learning to read and write, it was up to me as to what I wanted to read at home,
spoiling me at a young age with my hearts greatest fantasies. Beneath my fingertips, I held the
world in the form of National Geographic magazines or other nonfiction works. Of course, I had
occasionally read a Magic Treehouse or two, but as a kid, those decisions were only made to

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help me relate to the other kids. Dont get me wrong, I was not, nor am I by any means,
special. Far from it, infact. Id simply tapped into a faucet that was, simply put, me. Id
discovered a world unmasked by the writings of scientists, scholars, and philosophers, and I had
yet so far to go. Of course, due to the social strain to be the typical kid where deviation was
scolded, I hid these thoughts and excitements internally, and simply strove to be gather what I
could when I could. Oh, did I love it. Engorged in fantasies detailing the intricacies of the world
around me, I perched and spread my wings.
As I grew on, the pressure to stay deceptive on my reading habits died down, though I do
feel a slight comparison to Sherman Alexie. Where his literary talents could be dangerous but
possibly the only thing that could save him, however, mine were simply frowned upon, though I
dont feel entirely separate from the second idea. A personalized literacy did save me from a fate.
It saved me, quite simply, from routine and having to figure out my own style and who I was. I
my opinion, literacy narratives have very little to do with the actual idea of how we learned to
read and write. Surely we would spend little time on something that could be summed up by a
basic psychological study. No. Literacy narrative describes the very essence of who we are,
Without finding that out early, through extensive trial and error, I may have been lost forever,
never destined to take off at all.
In an article from the National Council of Teachers of English on how to help children
become better writers, one of the tidbits of advice seems applicable to my own experiences.
Though the rest of the article suggests taking an active role, one of the ways to better a childs
writing habits, according to them, is to simply encourage writing, not force it. The article, in the
section, seems to be advising this idea of an independent narrative with a helpful hand along the
way. There will be times when a child will want to write and other times where the desire is

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nonexistent. I believe that through forcing this writing, people can unintentionally mold a childs
narrative to being a pragmatic one, designed only to achieve expectations and nothing more. In
my personal experience, this is the worst possible outcome, as our literacy narrative is such a
huge part of who we are.
When we read and write, we dont read to take the words as they are necessarily meant to
be and we certainly dont write aimlessly. We read through a lense and write with purpose, less
we do nothing at all. When I first began to use the new technological advancement known as an
email, for example, I had no intentions of sending off messages wasted with poor grammar or
other atrocities. Ambiguities had no place in my correspondence, and I only wrote my friends
with intent. My technological influences were merely me learning to comprehend others odd
typing/texting style. When reading the messages, I did not register the words as simple text I had
been taught to read carefully and literally, I read them mentally in a friends voice, in a manner
indicative of their emotions and meanings. Our literacy narrative is, thus, simply yet another way
for us to perceive the outside world and what its giving us in a manner stylized and tailored to
our own habits.
Though, that begs the question; how far do our literary narrative habits extend and what
does technology have to do with anything? Of course the use of technology can be good. It
provides us with faster, more efficient ways to communicate with others, but it can also harm our
ability to communicate with people face to face (Stewart). When we think about technology as
harmful to our interpersonal communication we typically arent internally analyzing our literacy
narrative itself. Usually, people are keen to separate written and verbal communication, but
theres also the fact that our spoken diction and style are all results of our literary narrative.
When we mix technology in, the equation shifts. For example, 72% of teenagers text daily and,

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for the majority, this is the prefered method of communication (Stewart). This clearly will have
some effect on verbal communication, causing people to become short or extremely informal.
My own spoken narrative hasnt been changed too much because, as aforementioned, I kept my
textual communications on par with my natural narrative, being yet another example of the
minimal influence I try and let things have on the way I communicate, write, and read.
This independence in my personal narrative is, by no means, unnatural or even terribly
odd at all. According to Dr. John Bowlby of the Tavistock clinic, after eighteen months of age, a
baby begins to differentiate between itself and the environment and between the differences of it
and its caretaker. These ideas may be just forming but, according to Bowlby, depending on how
a parent gives the child attention, the child may grow either to be spoiled and dependent or an
entity of its own making. I like to think that this represents the foundations of a literary narrative.
We can either be coddled or pressured into writing what we enjoy, and suffer by being dependent
on others to dictate what we will read and how we respond, or we can become independent and
go whichever directions we wish.
You were reading by a year, or at least mouthing the words to books, I swear to it. We
gave you the books and you put them in front of your eyes rather than in your mouth, my
mother, Christy Kelly, told me in a recent interview. Without her generous and wide supply of
books she lent to my infantile self, I couldnt have developed this sphere of independence, I
couldnt have even been who I am today. Literacy is so tied to who we are and how we function
that imagining myself with a different writing style or passion for reading is impossible for the
simple fact that it isnt me. Im a dorky kid obsessed with how things work and, without
developing my own styles and choosing what I wrote to read, who knows what would have
happened. I may have been trapped on the track of investigating merely what I was told to. I

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wouldnt be an engineering major who dreams of building and inventing great things, I may have
never laid a hand upon a book prompting me to question the world around me. I may have never
been me.

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Works Cited
Bowlby, John. "The Growth of Independence in the Young Child." YC Young Children 59.2
(2004): 10-11. Web.
"How to Help Your Child Become a Better Writer (English Version)." NCTE
Comprehensive
News. NCTE, 1980. Web. 23 Sept. 2015.
Kelly, Christy. Personal interview. 20 Sept. 2015.
Stewart, Erin. "Does Cell Phone Use Really Affect Our Communication Skills? - The Lance."
The Lance. Lancer Media, 25 Nov. 2013. Web. 23 Sept. 2015.

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Bowlby, John. "The Growth of Independence in the Young Child." YC Young Children 59.2
(2004): 10-11. Web.
http://www.psychology.sunysb.edu/attachment/online/independence.pdf

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"How to Help Your Child Become a Better Writer (English Version)." NCTE
Comprehensive
News. NCTE, 1980. Web. 23 Sept. 2015.
http://www.ncte.org/positions/statements/howtohelpenglish

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Stewart, Erin. "Does Cell Phone Use Really Affect Our Communication Skills? - The Lance."
The Lance. Lancer Media, 25 Nov. 2013. Web. 23 Sept. 2015.
http://lhslance.org/2013/features/cell-phone-use-really-affect-communication-skills/