How I lost my illiteracy

I lost my illiteracy as a young age.

I cannot remember a single experience. It happened gradually, bit by bit.

I do know my first attempts were awkward. Not painful, but not graceful.

After the initial awkwardness, I progressed rapidly, and soon couldn’t get enough. I read everything! I couldn’t help myself. Everywhere their were letters, my brain interpreted them, almost against my will.

I remember the sad day I realized what I had lost when I picked up a book intending to make up a fantastical tale of derringdo and found myself reading genealogies in Genesis. No longer could I hold any book with the English alphabet and keep my innocence. The endless possibilities were forever gone for me. Losing my illiteracy had cost me.

Nor did I remain faithful to the first types of books I ever read. In a few years I moved on from grade 1 readers to mystery novels like Nancy Drew and the Hardy boys. My naïve parents kept their antique bookshelf in my room, assuming their cherubic grade 4 child would fail to notice Shakespeare, Roots, and Gone with the Wind. I devoured them at night, making sure no one would know. Once my illiteracy was gone, there was no boundary protecting me from classical literature.

I still consume books in secret. I confess, I am not faithful to any one genre. I do have my preferences and will always have a soft spot for Young Adult novels, but they are not enough to satisfy me. I read about the natural world, about histories lost and deliberately obfuscated, fairy tales, research of neuroscience and psychology, how-to books, graphic novels, political comics, political commentary, politically incorrect sexualities, textbooks and more. I am insatiable.

I can never get my illiteracy back unless I suffer a stroke or move to a place that doesn’t use the English alphabet. Even then, I would still have to live with losing my illiteracy. Lost. Forever.

Reading Outside of School: How Much is Enough?

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4 thoughts on “How I lost my illiteracy

  1. tlethbridge says:

    My mother tells me I was heartbroken after the first time she started to teach me to read and I did not instantly master it. I can’t say that I ever felt any regrets over losing my illiteracy, and I know there is some tongue in cheek here. Actually, I am not sure where you are going with this, but you did get me to read this post three times! 🙂

  2. prairienymph says:

    Hey T, that’s a cute story. Are you an oldest child by any chance?
    I’m not really going anywhere with this. I just thought it would be interesting if we framed learning to read in the same way we frame learning about our own sexuality – as a loss instead of a gain.
    I would write more about sexuality but I’m not sure the social protocol and what is Too Much Information.

  3. tlethbridge says:

    Ha, yes, I am in fact the oldest of four. And that explanation makes a lot of sense, sorry I was a bit dense. As far as topics, I say it is your blog, write about what you want to. Leaving religious fundamentalism opens doors to a lot of new ideas about life that were inconceivable before. One of the blogs I follow is by a former fundamentalist pastor, Bob Jones University grad, who primarily blogs on religion and polyamory. His journey has taken him some different directions than mine but it is interesting learning about it. I think TMI is when the people in your real life start to feel uncomfortable with what you are sharing, aside from that, I think it is an open field. (IIRC, my first question on your blog, because of the way you referred to your husband by different terms, was if you were poly).

  4. prairienymph says:

    Thanks. I guess people online have more avenues of escape. More awkwardness to come 🙂

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