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Lizabeth Mattson, 8/21/16, Literacy Autobiography, EDU 3410

I had a very traditional entry into literacy. Literacy was steeped in my family culture.
Besides reading, literacy was introduced to me through illustration, music, and media.
I do not remember this, but my mom told me I was disappointed to not be taught how to
read in kindergarten. I dont remember

anything about my reading instruction,

but one encounter with text was when the

music teacher came in to sing

"Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head"

with us, and the words were on a big

sheet of paper, with some of the words

represented as pictures, such as a picture

of an eye, the sun, etc. I learned to

First day of school, 1969

read easily. My mom says it was

because she taught me phonics at home.


In second grade I remember writing stories about my hopes and dreams, such as my wish
for an older brother who would take care of me, and drawing and painting a picture to go with
the story. I remember the grayish, flimsy lined paper.
All the while, my mother read to me and my brother. She was very gifted at reading with
great inflection that made the story come alive. I was also influenced by records of stories that I
played, and television (Sesame Street, The Electric Company and Schoolhouse Rock). The
library was a constant in my life, going there with my mother and on my own when I got older.
There were two types of characters that I liked reading about: those that I identified with
and those that I aspired to be like. The first category would include characters like Alice from
Alice in Wonderlanda young girl who is confused about the world she was living inor Karan
from Island of the Blue Dolphins. The second category would include girls (women really)
with intrinsic power. This would include all of the princesses from fairy tales. I could not relate
to them, but knew that I should seek to become like them.

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Lizabeth Mattson, 8/21/16, Literacy Autobiography, EDU 3410


I was a quiet kid who daydreamed a lot. I loved to daydream in the car or on the bus. I
would make up stories in my head. Later, when I had a writing assignment at school, I would
take that opportunity to write one of my stories for the assignment. At the end of fourth grade the
teacher gave out a certificate to each student. Mine said, To Lizabeth, the deep thinking
poetess. Even though I hated that teacher, I always remembered that.
Other literacy outlets included acting in plays, playing guitar and singing in the choir at
church, writing in a diary, and writing letters to relatives and pen pals overseas.
During college I was a history major and thus did a lot of reading and writing. I also took
a Feminist literature class, which introduced me to a whole different kind of writing: Instead of a
linear, logical progression, writing could be words that are put together without logical meaning,
but which transfer meaning anyway. This fascinated me and I learned to recognize such writing
in the lyrics of some of my favorite singers. I was never much into poetry, but I love song lyrics.
More recently I have been working with children on literacy, as a tutor and a teacher
assistant. I can remember the excitement of a young boy whose
parents are from El Salvador, when he reached a certain reading
level. Previously he had always been frustrated during reading
time. He excitedly said,

Reading with students in their neighborhood


with the Chapel Hill Read-to-Me Program

love to read now

because now I can read! This

showed me the way

that a childs world can be

opened through

literacy.

Although I was

introduced to literature in a very

traditional, Euro-centric way, I was also given access to many different points of view and
sources of literacy. In my future classroom I want to take the ideas that worked for me as a

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Lizabeth Mattson, 8/21/16, Literacy Autobiography, EDU 3410


literacy learner and expand the context of literacy sources to involve many cultures and modes,
giving each child access to a multifaceted global literacy to both find what works for them and
expand their cultural and literary understandings.

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