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McKayla Wheeler REH 101-04 M.

Weaver 1 December 2013 My Literacy Identity Home and school have been my two biggest literacy sponsors. Books and other reading material have been widely available in both places throughout my life. Both of my parents enjoy light reading, but my brother, who I look up to in every aspect of life, became an avid reader, and influenced my reading habits tremendously. Ive had many teachers that have made reading and writing fun and who have continued to encourage me even after I moved on from their class. Though not all of my teachers were as hopeful in me, I found motivation in proving those others wrong. In first grade, we started having individual reading time every day and everyone was expected to read at least one book each day. I wasnt very interested in this time of day because I didnt want to read on my own. I finally picked out a book called Biscuit that I really enjoyed. I cheated every day and always read the same book until Ms. Cook, the teacher, caught me. Not long after that, I was placed into a small group that went to a separate reading teacher a few times per week. We were the students that showed slightly more advanced reading abilities. This teacher always assigned me the most annoying little book called Mr. Huggles. Because of that one book, I never wanted to practice my reading when I got home and, though my parents would listen and help me with the book, I quickly became

tired of the same story and annoyed with the assignments. When the small group met again, I would act like I couldnt read the book and was always reluctant to participate in her activities. The teacher assumed that I actually wasnt making progress and told me that I wasnt capable of passing the first grade reading test. Sometime around third grade, parents had the opportunity to volunteer their children for annual reading checks. It was a project being conducted by ASU students that tested a childs ability to accurately pronounce and spell words along with how many words he or she could pronounce in a certain time frame. My parents signed me up and the results showed that I was the most advanced reader in the grade; I could read at levels much higher than expected of me. In fourth grade I could read at an eighth grade level and for my final test in eighth grade, it was determined that I could read at a college level. Back in third grade, I still didnt enjoy reading; however, we also started doing regular writing assignments that I did enjoy. I enjoyed writing stories and various types of poems that we eventually compiled into little laminated books that we got to keep. Fourth grade was when I finally found some books that caught my interest. We had to do several book projects, which forced me to read different books. I found that I really liked the American Girl, Little House on the Prairie, and Magic Tree House series. In fifth grade, I had a teacher that remains one of my favorites to this day. Mrs. Foster read to us every day after lunch and really sparked my interest in reading. My favorite series at that time was A Series of Unfortunate Events but I also got hooked on a series that started with a book she read to us in class called Among the Hidden. For one of the assignments in that class, we were divided into groups

and assigned a book to read and present. My groups book, Touching Spirit Bear, remains a favorite of mine; I even used it for a project in a later grade. Her class inspired me to join a competition book club in the library that opened me up to even more great titles. Throughout fourth and fifth grade, we continued to do writing assignments that I really enjoyed. I also began a letter correspondence with my great grandmother in Pennsilvania. I wrote my first non-assignment poem in sixth grade. It was a simple poem that I wrote in math class about hating math. That poem lead to a collection of other poems, and I really began to notice how much I enjoyed composing poetry. I also began writing a story that I had dreams of eventually turning into a book called Ferindy. Somehow my simple works were brought to the attention of my sixth grade English teacher who encouraged me to continue writing. She discussed the writing potential Id shown with the librarian who then asked me to write a poem that could be blown up and displayed on the library wall. That poem remained on display in Parkway Schools library until I was a freshman in high school. I also started getting book recommendations from my brother. I loved listening to him talk about the books he was reading at the time and began reading many of his old favorites. He has played a significant role in shaping my genre preferences. In March of my sixth grade year, my grandmother passed away. That became a very dark time for me and I changed drastically in personality and appearance. I became very withdrawn and my reading and writing practically halted. In eighth grade, I was able to come back out of my shell greatly due to writing assignments. My writing talents were rediscovered and appreciated by my teachers and classmates and I found that

I could use writing as a kind of therapy. My writing at the time was very dark and angry, reflective of the impact of my grandmothers death. She had always been my biggest fan. Though none of my writing was filled with rainbows, the sincerity and meaning came from my heart, which resulted in some beautiful pieces. At the end of the year, I was voted on unanimously by my class as the best writer and had the privilege of illustrating one of the covers of our book of compiled works. The therapy I found in writing helped me to find joy in reading again and become the happy person that I once was. The summer before my freshman year of high school, I read twenty-one books. It was common for me to wake up and read until bedtime. I was also getting excited about the creative writing class that Id signed up for. In my second semester, I started Mr. Adams class. I absolutely loved that class though the teacher and I didnt exactly see eye to eye. That class allowed me to experiment with new writing forms and topics. It made me a more well rounded writer while also allowing me to figure out which forms and topics I prefer. I began to shape my own style and sound. I take a lot of pride in my works from that class, because it was a class of amazing writers from freshman to seniors from all over Watauga county, and I was, once again, voted one of the best writers. Some of my favorite pieces were written for that class and I met a great friend that is still an inspiration to me. We continue to help each other with ideas, editing, and support in our dreams of being published. Since that class, I have continued to write; however, most of my writing has consisted of assigned essays and research papers. Pieces of creative writing have popped up in my collection on occasion when I was in desperate need of

perspective or expression. My letter correspondence to my great grandmother has persisted through the years and has allowed me to share many details of my life with someone I get to see very little. Though two of my favorite high school English teachers inspired me to consider an English and/or writing major, for the time being I have decided not to pursue that path, but I will continue to write for myself and in the hope of eventually being published. I could talk for hours on all the events that have shaped my literary identity. They are all dear memories, because they have all played a role in creating my love of reading and writing. I have them to thank for giving me a way to relax and step back and think through whatever is on my mind. Though Ive received guidance and inspiration from other places, my family and educators have, by far, been my greatest sponsors.