A Literacy Narrative is a popular way for writers to talk about their relationship with reading, speaking, and writing. Many literacy narratives have been written and published by famous writers to help their audience get to know them. It is also commonly used as a first assignment for college composition courses. It gives students a chance to 1) introduce themselves to their teachers and their classmates, 2) reflect on their relationship with reading and writing in a positive way, and 3) develop an understanding of the impact of reading and writing on their life. Students often find that the assignment is enjoyable, and teachers often find they they enjoy reading literacy narratives. Think of it as a personal story.
What does it mean to be "literate"?
The first Merriam-Webster definition of literate is "able to read and write." Some instructors require that the literacy narrative remains true to this definition of literacy. Another definition of "literacy" is more comprehensive. It is "having knowledge or competence." A literacy narrative can cover literacy in either of these ways.
The second definition of "literacy" may include professional literacy, hobby-related literacy, language literacy, or many other types of broadened understanding of a subject brought on by its connection to language. It is that connection to language that the literacy narrative is concerned with. For example, you may be an athlete. Let's say you play soccer. Well, when did you learn what "off-sides" meant? How did you learn that phrase? What does it mean to "play D"? What is a "football pitch"? A literacy narrative might concern this type of relationship with language. One of the challenges of this type of literacy narrative is making sure that you stay on topic. In the above example, the topic is "soccer literacy," not "soccer." A paper about soccer misses the point. Again, some instructors strictly want a paper about reading and writing, not a paper that is thematically related to another topic. Make sure to clear that with your instructor.
What is a narrative?
The other part of a literacy narrative is the emphasis on narrative. The paper must tell a story. It must have a plot. It must have a theme. It must mean something. It is an opportunity to share a story about your life with others.
This also means that the point of the paper is not to simply list important terminology or explain the meaning of certain words. It is also not to list the books you've read or talk about the poems your wrote. The narrative should talk about what you did and what it means to you in terms of your personal literacy journey.
How does a literacy narrative fit into the real world?
A literacy narrative is an important document detailing individual journeys with being literate. Since we've already established that "literate" and "literacy" have broad definitions, it's easy to see how a literacy narrative is about more than just a story about a person learning the alphabet or learning to read, write, and speak.
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