As a little girl with missing teeth and hair twisted into two blonde braids, I loved books.
Some of my earliest memories are of my mom and oldest sister reading to us. I can clearly remember scenes from books that they read when I was four, and maybe even younger, although I don’t have a good way of gauging when everything took place before my fourth year. (And it’s rather easy to figure that out, because that’s when my little sister entered our lives.)
On the weekend we celebrated my fourth birthday my oldest sister surprised me and my siblings by making us cute little sandwiches, then giving us blankets to sit on the floor and eat them while she read to us. That was the day that we read The Crown and the Jewel. I clearly remember the scenes, then excitement, the wide-eyed wonder the book brought. (Which, come to think of it, that might be when my love for princesses began?)
They would read to us at bedtime, while we folded laundry, on rainy days, and the list goes on. Once when I was five I was running with a stick (not a good idea folks), fell down, and had the stick go straight up under my chin, then break off. While waiting for the proper assistance to remove the fragments of wood, my sister cuddled me in her lap and read The Christian Mother Goose to me.
I remember coming down to our living room early one morning when I was five or six to see my next-older sister curled up on the couch with a red book with a horse on the front. She rather smugly informed me that our oldest sister had awoken her early to ask if she wanted a private reading lesson, and she had excitedly agreed. I remember bemoaning my extra sleep at that moment and wishing fiercely that I had been the one learning to read.
That’s the first time I recall the strong urge to learn how to read for myself. Thankfully it wasn’t long before my own reading lessons started. I don’t remember a lot about learning to read – mostly just trying to sound out letters that had little lines and squiggles over them, and thinking that it was really weird.
Reading was work to begin with. Instead of being fun like I had imagined, I had to concentrate and the stories were rather lame. We had a basket that contained a multitude of little treats, and each time one of us kids finished reading a book (which were obviously varying in size and difficulty), we were allowed to choose a prize from the basket. There were several Illustrated Classics in the basket, and those were the prizes I remember choosing. Because, well, books.
It wasn’t long before I had mastered the art of reading, and I was thrilled and amazed as a thousand worlds opened their doors to me. From that time I began carrying a book with me nearly everywhere I went. I made a special little nook in one of our closets (complete with a miniature rocking chair), and spent hours rocking back and forth reading Laura Ingalls. I constantly asked Mom for more book recommendations, and studied our bookshelves studiously, choosing anything that looked interesting.
I would read books during my spare time, then dance about acting them out as I completed my job list. Instead of being Lydia as I hung out the laundry, I was Annette and the hills around me were actually the Swiss Alps. I gulped down stories as fast as I could, delighting in the way that I could (nearly magically) hear a whole story in my head by simply running my eyes over little squiggles on a page. (It still amazes me, actually.)
At that time I never imagined that I would one day have a bookshelf of my own containing hundreds of books. At that time I never imagined that I, too, would become one of those authors who created worlds for others to delve into. At that time I had no clue what the future held for me, nor how incredibly delightful it would be.
I am so thankful to be a writer. I dream of possibly being one of those authors that other little girls are inspired by one day. And that motivates me to keep going, to keep writing, and to keep creating.
What about you? Did you grow up loving to read?