My literacy development was somewhat more reticent to develop than the average person, but throughout my school experience, I learned to love reading and the art of the book. Now I am an avid reader, and attempt to take steps to inform myself as much as possible whenever I can. In this essay, I shall detail the reasoning behind my current and former literary practices, and tie them to how it developed throughout my life.
I did not have a great deal of literacy experience growing up in Korea. My parents were avid readers, but their attempts to inspire me to read were not well-received by me, since I was a bit of an immature child growing up. I spent most of my time working or watching television, and I would play with my toys. The beginning of school was very difficult for me, since I hated reading - I read a bit from when my parents forced me to, and I could read pretty well myself, but I absolutely hated having to do it. It felt like a chore for me, since my parents were always really dedicated to having me read as much as possible.
Despite having this reading experience, I still hated reading itself. It always seemed boring to me, and I would always just hang out with my friends or do whatever I wanted when I was by myself. I never actively chose to read for pleasure, and I tended to not like my teachers or my parents trying to teach me discipline, so I would not read or do what they said when it was possible for me to do so. I knew how to read, but reading for fun was simply out of the question for me - reading was for boring grownups, I thought, and I did not have the proper discipline.
The turning point for my own literacy came when I attended Michigan State University in 2006; at that point, I was very immature and childish in my behaviors, thinking that I did not need to learn anything I did not have to. Before this point I did not respect my parents or myself, and so my grades suffered because of my lack of literacy and discipline. Luckily, that discipline came for me after I returned to Korea in 2008 to perform my mandatory two years of military service. Military life changed me quite a bit; with the rigors of military discipline and forcing me into quick thinking and physical fitness, I learned a greater appreciation for life and my station. Returning from service, I gave a great deal of thought to the future - I decided to increase my level of literacy and put more effort into my schoolwork. I also started to figure out what I wanted to do after I graduated, giving my life new direction that I would not have had before I joined the military.
This made me work much harder in life and school once I returned. Once I was able to start checking books out from the library, I did so constantly. I started out slow, with fiction books: I just wanted to practice and find new words. Once, when I was in third grade, I checked out the dictionary, and tried to make my way through it. I just read it casually, not taking notes or using any other method to get it into my head. I got to C before I gave up; there were far too many words to take into account, and I simply could not keep up that pace. Eventually, I would get my own dictionary as a reference, but I would never again attempt to just work my way through every word in the English language.
I also do my best to read works on a wide variety of topics, so as to not restrict my learning to just one thing. I will alternate between nonfiction, fiction, news, articles, biographies, science fiction, etc., or at least attempt to with every new work. This, I believe, will grant me a slightly wider range of knowledge than if I were to just read everything I enjoyed. Sometimes these works are a bore to get through, but in the end I feel as though I have been exposed to a new topic. In the end, I feel it is better that I be more informed than merely read what I like.
In conclusion, my somewhat stunted literacy in the beginning of my life was overcome through hard work and a zeal for the written word that I developed due to a need to fit in with my peers. I wanted to catch up with everyone, and so I started to read as much as possible, a habit I continue to this day. It is something that I hope to keep doing – I never want to stop reading, learning and being entertained.