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“Infinite Visions of Wonder”- A Literacy Narrative

Time was never a factor. No one else existed, but the two of us and those special characters that invited us into their world. As she opened the door into this infinite space, I was entranced by the extent of knowledge that resonated from her tiny little mouth. She knew so much. Her small fingers traced along the page and with every glide, I was slowly being transported to another world. It was a world that I longed to be in and she held my young tender hand, as well as the attention of my impressionable four-year old mind, as she guided me through that wonderfully enchanted world of knowledge. The adventure started as she would sound out each letter and syllable, forming words that created sentences, sentences that accumulated on to pages, and within books that created a vision. It was the countless visions that she read aloud to me that manifested my desire to learn how to read.
Learning how to decipher the words that lay within the cover of a book, can be accounted to my older cousin, Akimi. She was only one year older than I was, but when she came home from school, she would read her picture books to me. As she read each word, my mind would internalize that word, so that I may possibly use it for my own fantastic escapades. There were so many adventures that we shared as we laid down on the plush carpet of her living room floor, my magic carpet into a world of no limitations. Sometimes I fantasized about outlandish moments with a rambunctious cat in a hat and other times, I was an underwater mermaid princess that dreamed of one day being human, so that I could live happily ever after with my prince. Whatever the vision, it was one that was mine to keep. My imagination ran wild and helped me to understand that words were magical entities that had the power to create unimaginable places and distorted realities. If I understood the words, I would ultimately have the power to be and go wherever my imagination would take me. So that is what I set out to do. With the help of my cousin, Akimi, I learned how to read by the time I was to start kindergarten. From that moment on, the ability to go beyond the limitations of reality would be mine.
When I could hold up one whole hand and one overly exalted extra finger to proclaim my six year on Earth, is when I would learn that the magical place that books granted me could also teach me valuable lessons about love and acceptance. It was a lesson that would be taught to me by one of the greatest teachers that I would ever come to know, my father. The book contained two stories. On one side, there was the title Cooty-Doo and on the reverse side was the title Crick-Ette. The story that resonated with me the most was Cooty-Doo because without ever speaking a word, my father expressed so much to me when he gave me that book as a present. The protagonist of the story was a bug named Cooty-Doo, who was ashamed of his father because he was a garbage-man or to be more accurate a garbage-bug, who was responsible for all of the waste collection in the bug community. Cooty-Doo wished that his father did something that was more significant, like the other parents. It was not until he actually went to work with his father and saw how much he was respected by all of the other bugs in the community, that he realized how important his father truly was.
Cooty-Doo learned that it is not what you do or what you have that defines who you are as a person, but your character and the level of honor and pride that you reflect. My father shared the same profession as Cooty-Doo’s father; he was a proud employee of the NYC Department of Sanitation. At that young age, I was never ashamed of my dad’s profession and after reading Cooty-Doo, I never would be. My father signed the inside of Cooty-Doo with a sincere message of love for his young daughter and although I no longer physically have the book anymore, I will always have the lesson. The message of love is an indelible part of my heart that I learned from a combination of words from one unforgettable fictional character and a significantly real one, my father.
Words would continuously teach me valuable lessons about life and about myself as an individual. However, as I got older, I wanted to do more than read other people’s words and step into their realities. As I opened the door, I would begin to walk slowly. My enthusiasm was riddled with countless questions and when I reached high school, I would meet a teacher that encouraged me to question, analyze, and create. His name was Mr. Lui, and he would become the character in my life that would help to instill in me the tools to think critically and analyze the words.
One novel that we studied in Mr. Lui’s ninth grade English class was Animal Farm. Of all the novels that I was assigned to read in high school, I remember this one distinctly because we were placed in cooperative groups and had to present a lesson based on a literary element in the novel. I believe my group had to discuss symbolism. I can still remember the blank stares and faces that veered at me as I spoke to the class. I enjoyed reading the novel, but unfortunately, the same enjoyment could not be seen in the students or my presentation. In my reflection about the assignment, I wrote that I could never be a teacher. It is much too difficult and the painstaking looks on those adolescent faces was enough to make me retire before I even started. At that time in my life, I had no desire to be an educator, so I always reflect on the irony of my words. With the creation of that presentation, Mr. Lui taught me that sometimes it is difficult to verbalize the power of the words. Because of that episode, I developed a newfound appreciation for him as an educator and as a person. Not only did he introduce me to the world of literary analysis, but he showed me that it can sometimes be a lonely journey when you can’t convince others to join you. Now that I am an educator, my ultimate goal is to do just as Mr. Lui did for me, have my students take the journey with me on a daily basis.
The highest institution of education is where my love for words and literature would lead me to my current career path. My love for reading, as well as writing, would escalate to immeasurable heights, as I sat in the classes of various professors at Stony Brook University. During my junior year of college, I decided that I wanted to take the hands of other individuals and help them to explore the magnificent journey that can be taken by opening the pages of a book. I wanted to instill in my students the courage to explore their own worlds and the diverse elements of other worlds through the written word. I am proud to say that this has been my path for the last six years of my life. With every victory that I have within the classroom, I am taken back to my time on the living room floor with my cousin, but this time I am the one opening the doors to the journey. If I can awake that same sense of wonder in their illuminated adolescent eyes, an infinite world of exploration will await them as soon as they walk through the door. The sparkle and hunger for knowledge that reflected in the eyes of that four-year old little girl has yet to fade away.
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Posted in Literacy Narrative.

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  1. Kevin L. Ferguson says

    Great literacy narrative–I liked that your writing style reflects your evolving relationship to literacy, from the fluid and fantastic, to the more organized and presented. In some ways that ninth grade class seems like a necessary evil; having to present on symbolism is like the opposite of the four-year-old’s enchanted world! But that event was also the first step of your own transition from gaining literacy to sponsoring it. What’s significant in your narrative is that, like your first memory, the sponsors here are close in age. I see that difference between sponsors like your father/Mr. Liu and sponsors like Akimi as worth investigating. I imagine your role in the classroom is to facilitate both kinds of sponsors–peers as well as your own expert position.