College Writing 1
Prof Therese Jones
"The Joys of Reading and Writing"
What’s so fun about reading? What’s so fun about writing? “All right class, it’s time to line up! We’ll be visiting the library today,” said my third-grade teacher. My classmates and I had diligently single-filed into a line, more so a snake-like bundle. I watched as my classmates were either excited or indifferent to seeing the school library. “What kind of books do you think will be there?” asked Fatima. Her sister replied, “I don’t know, but whatever is there I hope they will be interesting.” The little bundle of third graders followed our third-grade teacher. We passed hallways, classrooms, and cubbies. All I could think in my head was, “What’s so fun about reading?” Although I did not struggle with my literacy skills, I found that reading and writing were boring or intimidating.
As a young child, I was always interested in the pretty pictures instead of the flowery words in books. “Can you read me this book?”, I asked my older sister. I handed her a book with a cute, fuzzy bear on the cover. Although this was my favorite book when I was four years old, I didn’t deem the title worthy enough to remember. “The giraffe looked…” my sister read, but I was too engrossed by the animals prancing along the pages to follow along with the reading. In second grade, I always saw my sister bringing two or more books home with her after school. “What’s that?”, I wondered aloud as I grabbed my sister’s latest book off the living room table. The Knight at Dawn from The Magic Treehouse series had a beautiful cover with a starry night sky. Two children were riding upon a majestic steed with a courageous knight whose armor shone from the twinkling stars. I was enraptured. I decided that maybe I should give the book a try. Flipping to the first page, I began to read. “Wow. Maybe this isn’t for me,” I muttered as I put the book down. I narrowed my eyes at my sister; she was perfectly content reading.
Writing was a completely different story. I despised writing. “Okay, class! We will be writing an essay about our experience in school,” stated my second-grade English teacher. Essays were the worst. Why did second graders have to write essays? I looked around; all of my classmates were quietly writing. Looking back into my paper, I glared and hoped that words would magically create an essay. Third grade rolled around. Perhaps writing couldn’t be so bad. My third-grade teacher taught us the basic parts of an essay. First, you need an introduction. “It must grab your readers’ attention! With just the first sentence, they must be wanting more!” she exclaimed. I chuckled. How would something as boring as an essay convince someone to read it? Still, I continued to listen because 1) she was my teacher, and 2) I was interested in what she had to say. “Next, you need three body paragraphs. This is where you go into detail about your topic. And finally, the conclusion. This is where you would tie up your essay. Review what you wrote about and close your essay.” My classmates and I went to work. Our pencils flourished across the wide-ruled paper. Maybe, just maybe, I had a chance at writing. After listening to my teacher’s explanation, I was determined to write a great essay. The day she returned our papers was the day I realized that maybe writing wasn’t so bad.
I watched as my classmates milled around the third-grade classroom. Today was the day we were visiting the school library. “Hey, what books do you think you’ll get?”, asked Jaime. “Not sure, guess we’ll see what’s there,” replied Grayson. I never really liked libraries, but I never hated them either. Ten minutes away from my house, there’s a public library. My dad, sister, and I would visit from time to time. Walking into a library is like walking into a jungle. The bookshelves were like tall trees, reaching toward the sky. The books were abundant, making their homes amongst the open space the library provided. It felt like an adventure every time I stepped one foot into the library. Although I had the most fun exploring every nook and cranny the library had to offer, I wasn’t interested in reading. The towering shelves laughed at me as I navigated the library like a labyrinth. “Why are you here? Pick a book why don’t you?”, cackled each book I passed by. I shrugged and replied, “Well, do you have pictures?” Walking around, I took in my surroundings. Small books, wide books, and thin books lined the walls of the room. I saw the Harry Potter series on display. There was a boy with round glasses and green eyes in one of the books. He had a distinct lightning scar on his forehead. I thought to myself, “Wow! That series looks too intimidating…” Each book in the series was lined up in chronological order. Each book became thicker and thicker until my eyes landed on the last one. I quickly turned around; those books were definitely not for me. Yet, I was intrigued by one thick book. The Lost Hero, by Rick Riordan, was in bold gold letters on the cover.
Over the summer, I read The Lost Hero in its entirety, but was curious about what the Percy Jackson series entailed. So, after reading the whole book, I began the Percy Jackson series. I had my doubts about the Percy Jackson series but once I began reading, I could not put the book down. Sleepless nights and books upon books began to pile next to my bed. Once I finished the first book of the series, The Lightning Thief, I found myself enthralled by the idea of reading. Holding the beat-up and worn-out cover of The Lightning Thief, I was determined to continue reading. Reading allowed me to explore my imagination. There were no limits as to what I could imagine.
Beads of sweat began to collect on my forehead as I nervously tapped my pencil against my notebook. “You’re almost there, just a few more lines. Please try to write half of a page for your journal writing,” said my fourth-grade teacher. I nodded my head and stared at my paper. Many of the students around me had already finished their assignments. I peeked over to see my classmate, Nina. Her paper had one whole page written out! Flabbergasted, I put my pencil down. There was nothing wrong with my writing skills, it was just that my ideas didn’t flow as quickly as the others. I imagined each student’s brain was like a waterfall, their thoughts were flowing bodies of water that cascaded from their pencil onto paper. Meanwhile, I was a leaky faucet. Words dripped slowly from my brain. Drip, drip, drip. I barely made half a page.
Poems were my lifesavers. “Love That Dog”, by Sharon Creech, opened my eyes to a new way of writing. “Here, you can see that this poem is shaped into a dog! Poems allow for creativity to flow. There isn’t one way to write a poem. There aren’t any strict rules when it comes to writing one either,” said my fourth-grade teacher. The whole entire class gathered around in awe, crowding the teacher as she showed each one of us the poem in the yellow book in her hands. “I need to write poems,” I whispered under my breath.
I would consider fourth grade my golden year for writing. I was invigorated with newfound confidence to write. After listening to my fourth-grade teacher read, “Love That Dog”, she assigned a writing assignment. “Please write a poem about an animal of your choice. Make sure it has five lines. Once you’re done, you can draw the animal you’ve chosen beside your poem,” instructed my teacher. “An owl! I’m going to make the best poem about an owl,” I murmured to myself. My thoughts took flight, and my pencil flew across the paper. The little owl I drew on my paper winked at me. “Great job, I am deeply touched by your words,” it whispered.
Our next notable writing assignment was writing a story. “Okay class, since we have been learning about Greek and Roman mythology, we are going to be writing a story based on a constellation you made up!”, I smiled smugly to myself as my classmates chattered amongst themselves. “I don’t know anything about Greek or Roman mythology…” muttered Grayson. “What’s a mythology?”, murmured Jaime. I profusely thanked the Percy Jackson and the Heroes of Olympus series. Both series sparked my love for mythology. I chuckled to myself. This will a piece of cake. While brainstorming, I began to look at the constellation I created. In class, our teacher talked about the constellation Orion. Orion had many different variations; he was either a tragic hero or a despicable man. However, his story always ended in the same gruesome ending. Death. Frankly, Greek and Roman mythology were either extremely gruesome or tragic to a young fourth grader. The weaver Arachne was transformed into a spider for insulting and besting the goddess, Athena, in a weaving contest. And as for the story of Theseus and the Labyrinth, children were being sacrificed to the man-eating Minitour… “Wow, Greek mythology is not kid-friendly,” I thought aloud. Flipping through my ginormous book of Greek mythology, I realized I didn’t want the typical tragic stories I was familiar with. Carefully looking at my constellation, I immediately saw a flower. My eyes twinkled with inspiration, and my thoughts grew from cracked concrete and flowered into something beautiful. “I want to make a story about a nymph,” I triumphantly said. I smiled as I opened my laptop. My fingers furiously typed and before I knew it, I had at least three to four pages of writing. I wanted to rejoice; it was the first time I had fun writing more than one page.
High school is when everything became serious. I began to have a love-and-hate relationship with reading and writing. However, high school showed me how to further analyze texts as a reader and writer. The hidden meaning behind each word, the symbolism, imagery, and allegories each story had were enticing. The Lord of the Flies, Frankenstein, and Shakespeare’s Macbeth were not stories I would have typically read, but they allowed me to look deeper and analyze. What was the overarching theme of the story? What do the characters represent? How did the author use figurative language? Being exposed to different genres of books and writing analysis essays about these stories helped me develop a respect for both reading and writing. It allowed me to shape my thoughts into coherent words. I was able to use these literary skills and improve my literacy skills.
Throughout my time in school, I had no difficulty in my reading and writing comprehension. Instead, I felt as if reading and writing were either tedious or daunting. As I continued my studies from elementary to high school, the expectations of a student’s literacy skills changed from simple to complex subjects. Sentences turned into paragraphs and paragraphs turned into essays or papers. It was difficult to keep up. The transition from reading and writing fantasy stories to formal essays was difficult. It made me frustrated, just as I started to learn how to love reading and writing, high school slammed “boring” books and assignments one after the other. However, these so-called “boring” things allowed me to understand and further analyze texts as a reader and writer. School taught me that although the process of writing and reading is difficult, there can be joy and fun in it as well.