ASSIGNMENT: Write a short essay about the impact of reading upon your life. A literacy essay explores one’s growth as a reader. Don’t confuse “literacy” with “literature.” The goal is to come up with a thesis that states how one specific text, or perhaps a series of them, or just the written word in general contributed to your personal development.
EVALUATION: What you’ll be graded upon:
15% Introduction: You set a context for why it’s important to discuss the place of reading and writing in our lives. How has your experience in these areas shaped your values? What can other people learn from the story you have to tell? You may use a specific anecdote or episode from your life to illustrate your point.
15% Thesis: You state in 1-2 sentences your main idea. The thesis is the culmination of your introduction.
30% Organization. You have two options for organizing your essay, depending on the focus you take:
OPTION 1: If you are writing about your experience becoming literate (learning to read and write), you will probably take a narrative approach, detailing your first experiences in school or your first memories of books or the first time reading or writing seemed to make a big impact on your life. You will want strong transition from paragraph to paragraph, and your paragraphs should be around six sentences in length to be fully developed. Your organization will probably be chronological, moving from stage to stage in your life.
OPTION 2: If you focus more on a specific text or a specific reading experience, you’ll structure your essay in a more subject-by-subject fashion. Your introduction will establish that you are writing about significant moments at which literacy or particular texts impacted your life and give a sense of why those moments or texts are important. Your body paragraphs will be organized around each of those texts or moments, explaining what they were and narrating why they mattered. You will still want strong transitions and paragraphs of roughly six sentences.
10% Conclusion: Regardless of which option you choose, you want a conclusion that avoids summarizing what you’ve just said. You also don’t want to say, “In conclusion.…” Your aim in a conclusion is to place the discussion in a larger context. For example, how might those experiences be similar to or different from those of other individuals? How do you envision the role of reading in your life in the future?
15% Grammar and mechanics: Your paper avoids basic grammar mistakes, such as dropped apostrophes in possessives, subject/verb disagreement, arbitrary tense switches, etc. The paper demonstrates a commitment to proofreading by avoiding easy-to-catch typos and word mistakes (effect for affect, for example).
15% Presentation: Your paper meets the minimum length criteria of 500 words, is typed with an original title (remember that titles reflect the main idea of your writing, not the assignment; thus, no one should title his or her paper “Literacy Narrative” or “Essay #1).