Literacy from the Perspective of a Five-Year-Old


I’m not falling behind,

I’m starting behind.

My mommy and daddy are not like theirs.


No bedtime stories

with silly questions

“What color is the ball?”

“What did the dog say?”


But this is kindergarten.

Labeling, identifying, putting the basics together

of a storybook that everyone,

except for me,

seems to recognize.


But my mommy and daddy talk to me like big kids,

like I’m a big kid.


I’m raised by their language,

that way of thinking.

Not just the curse words, the yelling, the verbal violence,

but the analyzing,

the contextualizing,

the mature execution of conversation.


I am five years old,

and I do not realize

my own literacy capabilities,

because this is kindergarten.

This is school, not home.


Teachers talk down to me,

Through body language, through inflection,

I am wrong. I do not know the answers.


But what if my teachers

saw me like my parents do?

Talked to me like a big kid,

Realized my capabilities.

My social literacy,

My communicative skills,

My ability to decontextualize a piece of writing.


By fourth grade,

I will fit in.

That’s when they talk like big kids,

have a more developed social entity,

When they talk about reading like big kids.

I can’t wait!



I can’t make it that far.

I am failing kindergarten.

My mommy and daddy did not raise me

Preparing me for kindergarten language.


Can my teachers catch me up?

Can they teach me school language?

To stay on track,

To make it to fourth grade with my class?


I don’t actually know,

How important reading and literacy are

in schools.

Because I am only five.


But I hope my teachers do.

I hope they teach me how to read,

Like their mommies and daddies read to them.

So I do not become labeled

As a child who fails in academic language.


I am only five.

I may be poor.

I didn’t have many toys or story books growing up.

But I am smart.


I have my own special language skills,

That all my teachers should recognize, not ignore,

Or brush off,

Only to focus on the “right” way to read.


They should employ my skills in the classroom,

And integrate basic academic language,


To help me read like a kindergartener.


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