Collecting Dust

My bookbag weighed a ton. I remember walking up the three flights of stairs in middle school to get to the third floor, which is where I had all my classes. What made my back hurt was that dumb book, The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan which had so many pages. It was part of some greek mythology novel which was part of a bigger series, The Heroes of Olympus. I would read them all the time during lunch, recess and even in my own classes. I would find any way to read that book but today was different. I came to school with that book ready to read it when I went into my math class and saw the lesson up on the smartboard. For the first time in probably all of my school life, I didn’t understand what the lesson was about. I saw a bunch of numbers and letters but I had to ask my friend Eduardo what they were about.

They’re systems of equations Xavi” he’d say.

Of course, if I had been paying attention I would have known what that was. I was in eighth grade, so taking algebra in middle school wasn’t something every kid did but still I understood most of the lessons because math was always my strong suit. For the first time in months, instead of putting my Heroes of Olympus book in my desk like I usually do, I left it in my bag. A sense of nervousness and anxiety filled me because never in my life would I think I couldn’t understand math. It took me about a week and a lot of help from Eduardo to be able to understand what was going on in class. Once I got caught up in math though, I returned to my bad habit of reading that book everywhere. My mom would love that I was reading all the time.

 “That’s good for your brain mijo” she’d say.

When my report card came out with all my grades though, it was a completely different story. My mom couldn’t even look at me in the eye and I couldn’t give her a valid excuse as to why those grades were so low. I knew she was disappointed in me and it was one of the worst feelings in the world as a child. I slowly realized that the book was doing me no good. The next day, I went to talk to Mr.Fernandez, my math teacher. He said my test grades were low and I barely paid attention in class. When I told my mom about this, she would then proceed to blame me and the books. 

“It’s all because of those dumb books that you carry around and read everywhere”  she said.

She went on to tell me to just throw the books out because they would just collect dust in my room. I was so confused because everyone told me that reading all these books was good for me and that I would grow up with a healthy mind and imagination. I didn’t realize that I was growing up and some priorities had to be set straight. School always came first which meant my grades and everything related to my future was to come first. I associated books and reading with school so I just assumed I was doing nothing wrong when I spent hours reading those fiction books. I told myself I needed a little self control and that school and my grades should come first. And they did.

That was my eighth grade, and I ended the school year with grades that not only satisfied myself, but my parents too. Putting the books away taught me to have patience with myself and that in a way ,since I was young, I have time for everything in the world. The books were good for me as it opened up my mind to fictional universes and gave me an interest in fiction and sci-fi novels. Reading is a luxury to me now and if it wasn’t for these books, I would probably have no interest in reading nowadays. Those books are probably still somewhere under my bed collecting dust as most old books do. 

Fear of Reading

   I knew very little English from what I was taught in my Pakistan school. Coming to America, I had this fear of not being able to communicate properly with my peers at school here. I was in 3rd grade when I immigrated to America, I remember my first day of school. I walked in class giving everyone this look of fear in my eyes, I didn’t say a word. I was hoping no one talks to me. I was hoping the teacher doesn’t put me on the spot. Since English isn’t my first language and I couldn’t speak it fluently, I was placed in ESL (English Second Language). My teachers knew I was in ESL so they gave it their best to help me advance out of ESL. I was in ESL for 3 years, which was my entire elementary experience. With the help of my teachers, I trained myself to pass the ESL exam.

    Starting 6th grade I was placed in regular English. I enjoyed writing a lot more than reading, I don’t know why but I find almost nothing interesting in reading. It was like my biggest enemy, I hated it more than bullies. I seemed uninterested in almost every reading I was given. I only finished my reading assignments given by the teacher if I was forced to read. Every time I was given a book from the teacher, I tried to find ways to avoid reading the entire book and jump to summaries. Sometimes I had no choice but to read, because there would be a quiz or an exam. Starting high school, avoiding readings became almost impossible. There would be times where I wanted to write an essay or story but my vocabulary was really weak. I think it was in 10th grade when I finally realized the true meaning behind reading. I knew I had to make reading my best friend. I also realized that my vocabulary was weak because I don’t read. It was getting harder and harder to write. Hence, I started to read more. Started slow but if I look at my past, I read more than before.

    Reading wasn’t my favorite thing to do but I truly enjoy writing. It was something I could do and not realize how much I have written. In 10th grade my creative writing teacher gave us an assignment to write, she said to write about yourself. It can be about anything, maybe something that occurred in the past that changed your life. As easy as it sounds, it was actually so hard for me to write about just anything. It was hard for me to think about one thing out of all the other events that have occurred in the past. When it comes to writing, I hate writing about myself. I find it hard to think about a specific event. However, once I get an idea and start writing I would go on and on about that topic. If a teacher gives me a specific topic to write about, it makes my life so much easier. 

    I had many events in the past. First I had to divide all those moments into the events that were interesting. Then I had to choose just one to write about. It took me the entire period to think about an event to write about, so I had to finish it at home. The next day during editing, my teacher read my writing and said that my use of vocabulary is very weak. She said I was using small words to describe the event and that I should expand my vocabulary. At first I was so confused. I thought to myself, how do I expand my vocabulary? Completing the assignment became really hard, not because I couldn’t write or couldn’t think of the topic. It was because I was told to expand my vocabulary and I had no idea how I can do that. My teacher asked me if I read books and I replied, “To be honest I don’t like books or to read.” She said that I would have to make books my best friend if I want to get better at writing. I completed the assignment but it became uninteresting after I used the wrong words to describe the event. I couldn’t learn new words in a day, so I decided that I will read more in hope that over time my vocabulary grows stronger. 

Deck Of Cards

 I will always remember the day when I had to take the Chinese LOTE (Language test harder than regents) in my junior year of high school. After taking 3 years of Chinese at the time and having a Chinese influence with a 95% Asian school located in Chinatown of all places. I came to the point where I need to recollect all my previous Chinese knowledge in order to pass the test. The Chinese LOTE consisted of 2 parts, the oral and written, which were separated in separate days. I remember the oral section of the test the most even though it counted for the least amount of points in the test. There was tension in the air, classmates flipping through their notebook pages and rushing through google translate for some last-minute studying. Those three years of suffering in Chinese class listening to my 老师(teacher) all came down to this moment; if you don’t include the AP Chinese test, we were made to take in our senior year. All the juniors waited in the cafeteria. Waiting for their names to be called randomly. Some playing poker, some chatting but most filled with adrenaline ready to make a full-throttle turn to their testing zone. To be honest I studied for two hours before the test on the train and reviewed all the topics that I was confident in. Our previous Chinese teachers from when we were freshmen and sophomores were our examiners, which we were randomly assigned to. I was gambling with fate at this point to what teacher I’ll get. I was assigned to Ms. Hu, my sophomore Chinese teacher who I had for two months due to an upcoming successful heart surgery, which to me was the best possibility since I made a good impression of her throughout her time teaching my class.My oral was my worst aspect of the language, reading and writing benefitted me more. I either avoided answering oral questions or prepared ahead of time for when I needed to say something. The oral part consisted of 300 random cards displaying different topics and situations which we were to make a conversation with the teacher. You were made to randomly choose 2 of the 300 cards to talk about with the teacher in either teacher or student initiate, so basically it was like good luck.Me being a native Spanish speaker that got more accustomed to English from a young age, trying to learn another language with a time limit of a few years was quite engrossing. Having to change between three languages every day was quite a normal event for me. At school for about two hours I spoke and wrote Chinese to my classmates, at home I spoke a mixture of English and Spanish to show a clear understanding with my mother and siblings. Hearing people in the train, school and parks all speaking Chinese day by day, gradually made me embrace the new language as another way to show people respect and a connection towards them. While I can for sure say that I wasn’t the best or contained the most interest in the culture, I sure did try to meet the expectations that were entitled to me at the time.It might have been luck or low probability when drawing two of those cards but when the time came the two cards that I have chosen were both of the shopping topic that I had studied only hours before. One or the most confident draws that I held up my sleeve. I can’t really recall in detail to my response to her questions but I do remember my score of 21 out of 24 in the oral section. 


“Going to school while immigrant” By, Steven Polanco

          It was no until I came to this country that I had to struggle that much with reading and writing. I remember being a freshman in my English class, I remember the vivid movement when my teacher asked me to write an essay I didn’t even know what she was talking about, at that moment I had never written or knew how to write an essay in the “American” format. What made the situation even worse of what it was is that I did not know a single word of English. I remember the frustration and struggle I past through like if it was yesterday, almost everyone in the room had an idea of what we were doing but me. Also, the cause of that frustration was more because I was under the great pressure of showing everyone especially my mother that I could do it. I was supposed to feel safe and secure because the High School I went to was mostly for Latinos and obviously I expected to feel that way but the truth is that I just did not feel like I was part of it, I just didn’t fit in at that particular time, me sentia perdido.

          When I started the essay I was so frustrated and uncomfortable because it was my first time writing and reading that much and adding to that it was on a complete new language. I tried my best but, I had a ton of grammar mistakes even using a translator word by word, somethings just didn’t make any sense for me. Also, it was boring because I felt like a robot following a format that is always the same and reading the same information over and over again trying to get through the main information of every text or document. It was the same format given to everyone, one which we did not vote for or say that we like it. I tried my best even though I knew I was not going to get a good grade on that essay just by the facts that it was my first one and my situation with writing and reading in english. The frustration I past through wasn’t because it was hard, I can say that it was because I did not know how to read and write at all at that moment I realize that I never did. To add, it was more difficult for me because my teacher try to explain as best and simple as she could but the true is that at that moment I wasn’t going to understand it. I didn’t even understand what she was saying to me. At the end I came up with my essay and I failed that assessment.

          After that day, the day I felt like if I was going to let everyone who believe in me down. I started to give more importance to reading and writing because in a country full of high expectations if I don’t know how to read and write I won’t be able to meet the “Standards” society has set for me. Furthermore, with the past of the time following the same format even though it was boring, I started to get used to it and getting better grades and expanding my vocabulary. To add, the feeling of letting my mother down if I did not learn how to survive in a system where if you don’t do something as expected you’re not smart. It gave me a different point of view about the importance of reading and writing now day. It makes you feel vivo and the ayuda a salir adelante.


Literacy Narrative

The Perks Of Growing Up Bilingual

Going into my first years of elementary, I never really had any trouble with English. My first language is Spanish. I grew up talking in Spanish to both my mom and my dad all the time. But as I got older, I started talking to my sister in English and because of that, I Skipped pre-K because I didn’t need a lot of help with knowing how to write, read, and talk in Spanish. So going into kindergarten, of course my teacher was still a bilingual teacher because everyone in my neighborhood was latin/hispanic. So apart from knowing Spanish she knew english as well but it wasn’t a bilingual class. It was just a regular kindergarten class. I remember this one assignment she had given us, which was that we had to use the words she gave us on a sheet of paper to form sentences. I remember being the first one to finish the assignment. Some kids were still having trouble to form sentences because they couldn’t make of some of the words that were on the paper. For me, because I’ve been writing and reading in English since before I started school, it was easy. Since I had finished my assignment before everyone else in the class, the teacher congratulated me in front of the whole class for being able to finish early and without any help. Because I had already finished, I was able to do whatever I wanted to like draw, play, take a nap, whatever. Of course, as long as I was still inside the classroom. While all the other kids had to try and figure out how to form the sentences. This made me realize how lucky I am to be able to know how to talk, read, and write in both English and Spanish at such a young age. I didn’t struggle as much in my first years of elementary school due to what I already knew. I feel like if you know a certain language well enough, especially English, then you won’t struggle as much in whatever it is you’re doing because wherever you go there’s going to be at least one person who knows English. Knowing English is kind of like a perk because everyone knows at least a little bit of English. I guess you can say that English is a universal language. Of course I never forgot how to read and write in Spanish thanks to my parents which I’m thankful for because I didn’t want to loose that side of me; my Latina side.

literacy narrative

Throughout my life, I’ve never really enjoyed reading, writing or speaking.

When it came to reading I hate it so very much. That might be weird but I

just find reading very dull. Although I dislike reading, I feel like if I do it

more often it could help me and my brain. A reason why I feel like I dislike ‘

reading is maybe because of the books that I have read. I don’t enjoy what I

am reading. The only books that I can remember enjoying are the book

series Diary Of a Wimpy Kid. Although I don’t like reading books, I do enjoy

reading blogs and news on the web. I also used to enjoy reading the

newspapers, as I would be curious to find out what was going on. Although I

don’t enjoy reading, I try to read and I will forever try as I can see the

benefits of it. Now when it came to writing, I don’t enjoy it because I

literally will have brain farts while trying to think of something to write

about. Even though I don’t like it, throughout my life I have written

so much. I have written from personal biographies to other people

biographies to essays and summaries. I feel good sometimes when I write

because I can write what I feel. I can express my mind from brainstorming

and then writing. I have many pros and cons when it comes to writing

because my writing could be either very good or very bad. When I don’t

know what to write, sometimes I don’t even write. Although my writing can

be bad if I am into what im writing it may come out very good. A goal of

mine since I was a kid was to write a journal and write something every day

but that never happened. I hope one day I can still achieve that goal. Writing

is not in my best interest but it would be my best trait when it comes to

literacy. When I was a kid, I used to be a big mouth and I would like to talk

about literally everything and gossip. Now I feel like I am a little antisocial

as I don’t really like to talk to people or talk in general. Like \if I was to

present something in front of a crowd, I would not feel comfortable.

Although talking might seem easy for others I feel like a lot of people don’t

feel comfortable talking in crowds or out loud. This is only the case for me

when I am in unknown territory and I am not familiar with any one. If you

get to know me or we are close I could probably be one of the best people to

talk Since my reading, writing, and speaking aren’t up to what I expect

them to be, I will take full advantage of this class and other classes like my

public speaking class to improve overall in my literacy.

Sandra Cisneros “Only daughter”

In Sandra Cisnero’s “only daughter” she emphasizes the fact that shes the only female sibling in a family of six male brothers. Throughout her early life all she wanted to do was be recognized by her father and prove to him that she didn’t have to get married in college to be successful. I felt really touched by this reading mainly because she was determined to show her father that she had achieved something great in life that shes proud of. Just because she was the only girl, her father didn’t really seem to give her the same attention as her brothers. But it really touched me at the end of the story when she had recently had one of her stories translated into spanish  and had her dad read it, and when he finished it he seemed to be very proud of her and actually wanted more copies for the relatives. This was proof that her father finally gave her some recognition and realized how successful his daughter turned out to be. This sort of gave Cisnero some peace and weight off her shoulders to know that she had achieved the goal of making her father proud.

My personal experience with reading/writing

One personal experience that i had with reading or writing was when i read the book “A child called it”. Before i continue with anything, this book was about a boy that would get very mistreated by his own mother and it was actually very devastating to read. I read this book about a summer ago mainly because i had nothing else to do. I remember one of my friends telling me that this book was amazing to read so i decided to give it a try. I remember that i had started reading the book off my phone at midnight and the first couple of chapters weren’t so bad but as i went on i was reading about how his mother would make him starve and wouldn’t give him any food. But then it got way worse to the point where she would torture her son leaving him mentally traumatized and physically hurt. The reason i bring this personal reading experience to attention is because while i was reading this book i just imagined myself in this little boys shoes and just think about all the harsh things he had to deal with all alone made my heart ache. He had other siblings but he was the only one being tortured because his mother hated him for no apparent reason. It made me very emotional and i cried more than three times. And then to find out that this story was based on a true story and was actually written by the little boy that was being tortured. I was in complete shock that a boy that came from such a harsh back round made it big in life and became an author. This was a powerful message to all the readers especially me. I think this reading was really a message to tell us that no matter what happens there is always a bright side.

Response to Sandra Cisneros “Only Daughter”

Something I found interesting that Sandra Cisneros describes in her passage is that the audience she try’s to attract is ironically people who are disinterested in reading, which she states her father represents. She states in paragraph 8, “My father represents, then, the public majority. A public who is disinterested in reading, and yet one whom i am writing about and for, and privately trying to woo”. Being the only daughter in a Mexican family of six sons gave her not only a lot of time to herself but also pressure to “try to win her father’s approval”. She explains to us that her father believes her destiny would lead her to become someones wife and she wanted her father to think more of her and to not think she has wasted her education. She states in paragraph 7, “In a sense, everything i have ever written has been for him, to win his approval even though i know my father can’t read English words..”. Coming from an Hispanic family, she knows many others can relate and connect with her story. Proving yourself to your parents can be a big accomplishment for anybody and Sandra Cisneros makes it known in her story.