Several forces have shaped my literacy. These forces, also known as sponsors as explained by Deborah Brandt in “Sponsors of Literacy,” range from people to abstract things. The most influential sponsors for me took place in my childhood when I was really learning how to read and write, but more numerous sponsors shaped my literacy in later years.
As a child, I learned to read and write at home rather than waiting until kindergarten. My parents provided several children’s books for me to read from and my grandmother/babysitter spent time helping me learn the alphabet and sounds. My grandma also helped me learn to write while my parents worked. Also, my older sister- who is very intelligent- used to write stories that we would come up with during free time. I would re-read them and attempt to write my own stories, too. This was about the time I started reading out food labels and cereal boxes. I could successfully read and write by the age of four and was well prepared for kindergarten.
When I finally went to school, the teachers there obviously had a huge influence on my literacies. I was not only good at reading and writing narratives- but also math problems, science questions, harder vocabulary, and so forth. Group work with fellow students also shaped how I would write and reading their own words helped me understand that not everyone thought exactly as I did. As I grew older, my parents and family became less of an influence, but teachers and friends become more of an influence.
Junior High was a big part of writing in my life- not academically, but socially. Passing notes was an everyday activity and occasionally consisted of more grown-up thoughts compared to those in elementary school. Hiding the notes and coding the letters modeled my reading and writing skills as well.
High school brought several long writing assignments. The assignments ranged from English, to governments, to topics of my choice. I also become literate in the reading and writing of mathematical equations and graphs, and in chemistry and biology notations and equations. I started to broaden my literacies in specified areas of study in high school. Other events in high school led to me understanding sports notes and scores, shorthand, and advanced note taking.
Another sponsor of my literacy was letter writing. I dated a boy for three years that was in the Army. He went to basic training and advanced military schooling in Oklahoma. Phones were not permitted and our only means of conversing were through letters. I wrote 43 letters overall and received 21- all of which contained a language only he and I could fully relate to. We had our own ways of saying things and our own history that no one else could know. Therefore, writing the actual letters and actually understanding them significantly influenced my literacy.
Other influences on my literacy are music and video games. Lyrics are rather poetic and just memorizing them influences the way I write and read fictional work. Also, I played saxophone in school and can play the guitar. These musical instruments influenced my literacy in reading and writing music. I own a Wii, a game-cube, a Gameboy advance, and I currently play Xbox. Obviously following the story line of games and recognizing their creativity formed a whole new type of literacy for me.
Game systems are technology, but all other sorts of technology are sponsors of my literacy. I have always had a computer at home, I can work all computer accessories, I have had several iPods, I constantly take pictures with digital and film cameras, I received my first cell phone in 6th grade, and I operate copy and fax machines regularly. All of these things added to my literacies in understanding technology talk, instruction, and means of communication.
I would have to say that the Internet is a huge influence on my literacy. Social media sites, academic archives, games, videos, …just about everything you find out there can make me more knowledgeable in any given topic. The Internet was, is, and always will be a sponsor of my literacy.
I’m sure that there are several other sponsors of my literacy but these are the most memorable and influential. Up to this point, I believe I have grown greatly in literacy of all subjects. However, there are millions of things I do not know or understand yet. There are millions of things I may never venture to. Reading, writing, and understanding will always be a huge part of my life so all I can do is keep practicing.