Superman and Me is a memoir written by Sherman Alexie, published originally in the Los Angeles Times. Alexie is a young Native American who narrates how, in spite of having grown up on a Spokane Indian Reservation, he learned to read at an early age by looking through Superman comics. He tells how he continued learning even more over the years until it turned him into a writer. Alexie’s Superman and me is addressed to the children on Native American reservations who are struggling in school and in life in general, in order to convince them that with dedication and perseverance, they can change the stereotype of Native Americans who live on reservations. This is important because, according to Alexie, reading and writing can save a person’s life.
The author tells how his father’s passion for books soon led him to develop a deep interest in them as well, and how from an early age he had contact with all kinds of books. Already interested by books that his father brought to their home, his curiosity made him pick them up randomly and open them. Although he did not know how to read, he figured out the purpose of paragraphs. As a result, everything he viewed was in the form of paragraphs: family, classmates, and the Native Americans reservation where he lived. Alexie especially remembers a Superman comic that, despite his lack of vocabulary, he could match the words with the visualization and use his imagination. This avid interest in reading made him learn quickly. In this way, he was able to read more advanced books than his classmates.
Consequently, his classmates began to look down on him because Native American children are not generally viewed as “well-educated.” Despite this, Alexie was decisive in his determination not to fail in the non-Native American world. Therefore, he started to read everything he came across, from cereal boxes to newspapers and magazines. As an adult and writer, Alexie teaches other Native American children creative writing and how to read. He especially encourages the younger youth to keep reading books. Alexie (2013) says, “I am trying to save our lives” (p. 91).
I enjoyed this story. I admire the courage that Alexie shows in his determination to continue to learn despite adversity. He says, “A little Indian boy teaches himself to read at an early age and advances quickly… if he’d been anything but an Indian boy living on the reservation, he might have been called a prodigy” (Alexie, 2013, p. 90). I think he wants to demonstrate how hard it is growing up as a Native American in a non-Native American world, and the difficulties that exist being a Native American. He wants us to know that it is not typical for a Native American to be well-educated and to become successful, as he did. His success required hard work and dedication.
To achieve these things, he put so much effort and perseverance into reading and understanding. That is why he mentions, “I read books late into the night until I could barely keep my eyes open. I read books at recess, then during lunch, and in the few minutes left after I had finished my classroom assignments” (Alexie, 2013, p. 91). Evidently, it was a lot of work, but it paid off.
Although his persistence and determination to get things was the key to his success, the people around him were vital for his motivation. For that reason, I think Alexie’s father played an important role in his life and in what he has achieved. His father was an idol for him. He says, “My father, who is one of the few Indians who went to a Catholic school on purpose, was an avid reader of westerns, spy thrillers, murder mysteries…and anything else he could find” (Alexie, 2013, p. 89).
Alexie’s father was one of Native Americans who was attempting to exclude the non-Native Americans by reading and teaching his child to learn on his own. Alexie was inspired by his dad. He wished to be a successful person, and he wanted to read and learn to be smart, and he did. If it were not for his father, he probably would have been the stereotypical non-literate Native American. I think his father did a lot for his family and was a hard worker for them, and he gave them a happy life. Because of his father, Sherman Alexie was successful.
In conclusion, reading brings great benefit to all people regardless of age or race. It is imperative to foster in the children a love for reading. It is very important that they learn to read from an early age, get them familiar with the language faster, and extend their vocabulary. Reading a book helps children to stimulate their imagination and creativity, making them feel more interested in things around them and their culture.
Superman and Me, written by Sherman Alexie is an inspirational story, not only for the Native Americans, but also for everyone trying to get a better education. Alexie was able to do great things in his life, and he wants to show others that just as he did, they can do it, too.