ENGL 1301 Section 066
Justin M. Taylor
18 Nov 2014
My literacy began at the age of three when my mother began teaching me to write and read. I was an only child and my mother always stressed the importance of being an excellent reader. We were too poor to have television but my mother always found new books for me to challenge myself. When I started kindergarten I was able to write the alphabet in cursive, cite my ABC’s, and spell some words. In kindergarten my mother purchased a set of thirty books that were based on reading progression. This giant set of books for me to work through were the building blocks of my proficiency in literacy. The giant book set contained five books for each reading level. The first set of books was designed for kindergarten level reading. Each book within the level progressively lengthened and became more difficult. I was infatuated with these books and learning new words. The giant set came in a box and each level of reading was a different color. The sets progressed from kindergarten through fifth grade. The kindergarten level of books began with 10-12 pages and the last few books of the 5th grade level had over 50 pages.
My favorite part about reading those books was learning new words and more importantly how to spell them. I placed a larger amount of importance than most kids on how to spell big words. It was a way for me to boast in class or to impress my teachers. I was always first to raise my hand to go to the board to spell a word or show off my reading abilities. I became very competitive in my public school classes. Spelling tests were my pride and joy and I never missed a word. I began to think that kindergarten was too easy and started misbehaving in class to entertain myself.
After my first year of kindergarten my mother decided I wasn’t being challenged enough. She placed me in a small private school where the discipline was stricter and the curriculum was more difficult. My competitiveness grew even more in this environment and I always paid very close attention to detail. When my teacher would read to us I would try to repeat her inflections and pauses to make sure I was as good as her. My behavior was no longer an issue in private school, but I was still finding myself bored and without a challenge.
Near the end of my first grade year my teacher suggested to my mother that I attempt to skip second grade. I was ecstatic at the thought being amongst older students and being considered as smart as them. My mother and my first grade teacher did not agree. My mother understood my need to be challenged; however she talked me out of skipping a grade. She told me that it would be harder to make friends because I would always be considered too young. My mother’s opinion was biased because of the bullying I went through in pre-school.
When I started pre-school I could not speak very good English. My first language was French because my mother did not want me to lose her native tongue given that I was also a Belgian citizen. Pre-school was hard for me because I was constantly called “Frenchie” because of my language barrier. After coming home crying one day, I begged her to teach me English and she agreed. From that day on she never spoke French to me again with the exception of a few words here and there. By the time I started kindergarten I had lost what little French I knew and became more fluent in English.
My mother feared that if I skipped second grade that other students would again outcast me for being different. I was okay with staying in my grade because I had made friends and I still carried the chip on my shoulder for being offered the chance to skip second grade. My competitiveness and attention to detail grew even more. I began to categorize other students and myself as smart or not as smart as me. I always wanted to be the smartest in class so I paid close attention to those that also excelled in my class.
My mother and I