I can’t remember the first book I ever read, but I remember sitting in our bunk bed with my sister while my mother read to us from old hard-backed copies of The Wind in the Willows and Little Women. I can’t remember falling in love with reading, but I remember devouring Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG, and Matilda. For a long time Roald Dahl was my favorite author. His protagonists–young children who go on magical adventures–were so easy to identify with and his writing was so honest and imaginative. Then I found The Chronicles of Narnia, The Last Unicorn, and finally, in Junior High, I stayed up all night reading The Lord of the Rings. Thus, as they say, began a lifelong love affair with reading.
I was the kid reading books under her desk during class. Visits to the library netted me stacks of books so tall they reached to my chin when I carried them out. My high school Friday nights were spent curled up in bed with my cat and a book. When we home-schooled for a year during my mom’s sabbatical, I was rewarded for completing my work with books. I didn’t go to parties, never had a boyfriend, but I had travelled to Middle Earth and Earthsea, to Arrakis and Amber, Discworld and Xanth, and a thousand other worlds by the time I turned sixteen.
I thought the stories in books were infinitely better than real life and longed to find myself transported into a fantastic world. But there is beauty in the ordinary and the magic in newborn eyes is more powerful than any that can be imagined. Now I can find joy in sharing my love of stories with my daughter. Watching her discover the imagination that books can set free in her own mind will be a remarkably exciting adventure. And although she may not one day remember the first book she ever read, I will always cherish the memory of my husband bouncing her to sleep while reading The Princess and the Goblin.