Letters are the details of words. They are the smallest unit that cannot be broken down further, but when combined together, make something larger than themselves. Bricks put together in just the right way make a building. Numbers work together to help us figure out important stuff, like how much of what ingredients makes a cake, or how many bananas can I buy with my dollar. Letters are like that to words. Letters build words and words build sentences and sentences express meaning. Life would be hard without words.
When you are able to say or write a word, you should thank the alphabet.
Some letters are curvy like S, and some have tails like Q and Z in cursive. M’s tend to know a lot because they have double mountaintops from which to see.
O’s generally round things out. Some are rotund, like D.
You can make a letter prettier if you have good handwriting.
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Each letter has its own personality.
Z can tickle your tongue and tries to fit in with his buddies, the other letters, because by himself he is always sleeping: zzzzzz. But even then he’s not alone; he’s with his family.
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Letters make different sounds, depending on how they are feeling. Sometimes they are loud and sometimes they are quiet.
C can be soft, like in “celebrate,” and hard, like in “candy.”
S’s are everywhere, always trying to fit in by keeping quiet.
Some letters get along better than others. Q is usually with U, like in “quick” and “quiet.”
I and C have an alliance: I before E except after C.
When a letter repeats itself in a word, it is really trying to tell you something: shhhh! You really ought to listen.
A’s are often self-starters, since they are the firstborn of the alphabet.
I is often successful alone as a capital, and we all know anything with a capital is important. Like you. You are your own I.
Think about states: they each have a capital, and they are very big and important.
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The way the letters look can tell you something too. Small letters like j and i are seven-year-old basketball players, who want to be tall one day, always practicing their jump shots and hitting above where they stand. Their dots leave a fingerprint.
You can swing in the bottom of a y, j, or g.
Small e can look like a snail sideways.
Small r is like a hook: it has a flexible neck. R has peeked around the corner.
U’s and V’s: you could fall into. W’s are upside-down M’s.
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In reading and writing, the page is the larger landscape. Words are the landmarks: the individual plants, the trees. Letters are the bees. They work hard to produce something larger than themselves, and when bunches of letters get together they form a colony, which is also known as a book.
Tamara Adelman is a former massage therapist, ironman triathlete, and now writer and golfer living in Rancho Mirage, CA, the playground of Presidents and the Adelmans. She have a certificate in Creative Nonfiction from UCLA.