The Effects of Literacy in Annie Dillard's "American Childhood"

Topics: Annie Dillard, Adult, Book Pages: 3 (957 words) Published: March 10, 2004
Annie Dillard's memoir, An American Childhood, details the author's growing up years and gives the reader many insights into herself. Dillard describes many of the things that molded her during her childhood years, including family, humor, nature, drawing, and sports. At various times during her childhood, Dillard's entire world revolves around one or another of these interests, and each of them shape her personality. Although Dillard's many passions influence her life incredibly, it is reading, however, that most molds her childhood worldview. Reading opens the doors through which she eagerly steps, her curiosity prompting her to endless discoveries in books.

Dillard's interest in books emerges before she even truly discovers how deeply she will come to love them. Early in life, books become habitual relief to Dillard; she describes her morning-time habits: "To wake up, I read on the sunporch" (68). Her world begins to open in books; she discovers language similarities between her hometown of Pittsburgh and Scotland in the book Kidnapped, which enthralls her enough that her "hands were icy from holding Kidnapped up" (69). Little did Dillard know as she laid reading Kidnapped that books would have such a profound impact on her life.

Dillard's first serious encounter with reading occurs when a friend two doors down lends her his father's drawing book. She writes that she was "amazed that there were books about things one actually did" (78). Having already had an interest in drawing for the previous two years, Dillard's discovery of Kimon Nicolaides' The Natural Way to Draw causes drawing to become an all-encompassing passion to her. Along with giving her an introduction to drawing, The Natural Way to Draw is the first book that Dillard describes as truly exciting: "Now this book would ignite my fervor for conscious drawing" (78).

Thus Dillard's addiction to reading begins. She "began reading books, reading books to delirium" (80). Enraptured by the new...
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