Essay #1: Literacy Narrative
In this unit, we have read several examples of literacy narratives. In “Mother Tongue,” we read about the titular mother’s “broken English” and how that, along with several pivotal educational experiences, made Amy Tan the writer she is. In “All Writing is Autobiography,” Donald Murray talked about the different parts of himself he brings into his different writing projects. These were both literacy narratives, which are stories writers tell about their relationship to reading and writing.
In this unit’s writing assignment, you will write a response to the question “What is literacy?” in a way that is personal, meaningful, and considered. The question does not ask “what is the definition of literacy?” but rather “what does literacy mean to you?” In this essay, you will relate experiences or events that have been important in shaping the kind of writer and reader you have become, or experiences that illuminate the role of literacy in your life. The purpose of the assignment is to explore this experience in order to gain insight into who you are as a writer and reader, and to examine the role literacy plays into your life. In the end, you will have linked your participation in this class to the rest of your experiences with writing in your life.
In preparation for this assignment, you have read two examples of literacy narratives — Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue” and Donald Murray’s “All Writing is Autobiography” — you will read a third sample student literacy narrative. Look to them for guidance.
If you feel stuck, think and write about the following prompts:
- What is your current attitude toward reading/writing?
- What are your beliefs about yourself as a reader/writer?
- What happened in the past to make you have that attitude or those beliefs?
- What experiences were most significant?
Also, consider the following areas of experience you might explore:
- your family’s attitude toward reading/writing
- your own reading/writing experiences in and out of school
- what you remember about learning to read/write
- what successes or failures you have had connected to reading/writing
- a particular book that had an impact on you
- your reading/writing strengths
- your reading/writing weaknesses.
Your essays will be >750 words (approx. 4 pages) in length, double-spaced in a normal 12-pt font (Cambria, Baskerville, Garamond, Times, etc.), with 1” margins all around. You should write your name and course details in the header, and page numbers in the footer. Your paper should have a title, an introduction ending in a thesis statement (an answer to the central question of the prompt), several body paragraphs that utilize the Point + Illustration + Explanation model we discussed in class, and a succinct conclusion.
Given the nature of this essay, you should draw from personal experience, and you may use the first-person “I” when doing so. You will bring in two printed copies to our peer review session in class and turn in a final draft electronically and physically by the beginning of class on __________.
Please feel free to stop by my office hours or shoot me an email with any questions.