My mom was an avid reader, but I do not remember her snuggling up on the couch with me to read. She was not a snuggler. I only remember a few books being read to me when I was little, things like Dr. Seuss, so my mom did not push reading and my dad was always working. When Buehl mentions on page 28, “some students do have lifelines at home: parents, siblings, or friends who can help with homework that the students have not yet developed the ability to accomplish independently,” I do see myself in that group because I never felt like I was alone when I needed help with reading or understanding my schoolwork. Although Mom was busy being a mom, she was also my tutor and so many other things whenever I needed her.
Standard Road to Literacy – Yetta M. Goodman wrote, “There is no single road to becoming literate,” (p. 56), which is good for some, but I’m pretty sure I took the standard road she references. I maintained an academic level that was above average in all subjects, including reading, though spelling was challenging at times. I did however, find ways to avoid reading if at all possible. Being read to by family members, going to Sunday school and reading children’s books all helped and I’m pretty sure I grew up with what would be considered an average reading ability (Goodman, 57).
When Buehl talks about the “Zone of Proximal Development,” I think this is where I failed to get that burning desire to read (Buehl, 29). In middle school I was still on a standard literacy road, and although I was about in that “third-student regulated phase”, I still did not find reading enjoyable (Buehl, 29). I scored at the high B/low A level consistently. I was still avoiding reading though, becoming a true friend of Cliff and his Notes! If you think about it though, not liking reading was an odd opinion since my mother, just like Goodman’s mother, was an avid reader. I remember, on many occasions, finding her sitting under a lamp before bed with her nose buried in a book. My father also read, mostly the paper like Goodman’s father, and he still does, but now he is reading the books my mom used to read before she passed away (Goodman, 58). He seems to enjoy them, but maybe they just remind him of her.
As Doug Buehl talks about in his section on "Disciplinary Literacy," pages 12 through 15, students are expected to "fine tune generic comprehension strategies" when they transition into high school (Buehl 13). He references how a student may be good at reading fiction but not so good at reading textbooks or manuals. Up until high school, I was exactly the opposite; I did not like fiction, but I did read textbooks begrudgingly. High school was the first place where I read a novel, and for the first time, I read it for pleasure. It was The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien that changed my outlook on reading, and although I still do not read frequently, this was the first time that I did not push back against reading assignments as much as I had prior to high school.
Before high school, I felt my reading literacy was adequate for my needs, and although I did not have an epiphany and suddenly love reading after The Hobbit, I did not work to avoid it as I had done in the past. This means the Disciplinary Literacy arrows Buehl uses would be fairly even for me, but they would all be very short arrows (Buehl 15).
My lack of “family literacy traditions,” like Goodman talks about on page 59, is not something I grew up with and therefore, not something I passed on to my children, which I regret. When I was in the Coast Guard I and had 2 young children, and I did very little reading to them. My wife was also not a reader and I know my children suffered because of that. At the time, I only read that which was required of me at work. When I got home I played with my kids and then just kind of let them grow up. Now they are 30 and 27 and neither read much at all, and neither have a college education.
Buehl opens his article speaking about how and what he enjoys reading (Buehl 1). I was never that guy, with the only exception being when I attended a secret radio school and had a two-week time-period where I could not leave my room. I finished Gone with the Wind in the first week and two of the Lord of the Rings books in the second. This was exceedingly odd for me and the newfound trait did not follow me home.
Goodman’s “Multiple Roads to Literacy” article expresses many ways a person comes to become literate. Although I was literate from a normal age of about 1st or 2nd grade, my enjoyment of reading, or hearing stories really began during this time of my life. Being an over-the-road truck driver, you have a lot of time on your hands, but it is all spent while traveling at 60 mph, so I listened to books on tape. I did this regularly, and this is when I came to enjoy Stephen King, James Patterson and Tom Clancy. I also listened to many other books, about 4-5 a week for 3-years. The way Goodman describes family reading and how communities contribute to literacy and Buehl touches on the topic, when he opens his article with the why people read comments. For me, the major influence and reason I have read was through work, and the loneliness of the open-road.
After my job as a truckdriver, I once again moved to a job with very little time available for books, to read or on tape. I returned to college for the first time since immediately following high school, so I read for school mostly. I suppose this means my identity as a reader during this time-period was based on my position, being a college student (Buehl 3). Buehl said, “Like our students, I have been obligated to read numerous nonchoice texts in my role as learner in school and college contexts,” (Buehl 5). If a text was not related to either work or school, it would not have been normal for me to read.
Being a supervisor at an educational facility would seem like a position that would promote reading, but my job with the Youth Challenge Academy did not have such an effect. When I reflect on my literacy and what Goodman says about “good” readers, I find that I am probably not one of those either, but I am one of the children, or used to be children, who participated in “watching TV, playing video games, fixing cars, cooking, [did not] responding to environmental print, etc.” thereby using my literacy as a peripheral event, as she describes it (Goodman 60). Even though I can identify with her example, I do not feel as though I am not valued by the literacy establishment; actually, I feel quite the contrary. I am now teaching English at a high school and have found that I am indeed quite literate and capable of sharing that with others.