“Reading is like breathing.” It’s true. Harper Lee wrote it, Scout said it, and I believe it. Books were my first true love, aside from my family of course. I cherish every moment I have with them, and get noticeably grumpier when we are apart for too long.
When you are little, reading is a chance to curl up, to let the voice of your dad reading Owl Moon (Jane Yolen), the chilly, quiet walk through the forest, the flight of the great horned owl and its shadow over the milky snow, lull you into peaceful sleep.
Unless of course your grandmother reads Eloise (Kay Thompson) and you end up rolling on the floor laughing at the sound effects, racing down the halls skimming a stick over the doors of the Plaza thumpity thump thump thwack.
Or your mom is reading Gooseberry Park (Cynthia Rylant), and at the end of the chapter you experience the thrill of your first cliffhanger. It’s a thrill so great that I remember coming in late one night, asleep on my feet, and while brushing my teeth managed to revive myself to hyperness because I wanted to know what happened next.
Falling in love with books was easy because my family loved them so much too. And then learning to read on my own, to be able to make the words come alive all by myself! That was when the cozy comfort of my long time friends turned into an unforgettable, passionate love. I was magically able to spread my wings fly. I didn’t need to beg my parents or grandparents or babysitters to read to me anymore because the worlds were waiting at my fingertips. I could soar through as many storybook lands as my heart desired. Which, as you can probably imagine, was a lot. My own brain, rather than someone else’s voice became the key to the magic kingdom of imagination. Animal Ark (Ben Baglio), Little House in the Big Woods (Laura Ingles Wilder), The Black Stallion (Walter Farley), The Last of the Really Great Wangdoodles (Julie Andrews Edwards), worlds both completely fantastical and totally realistic, in the past or the future or right now, anything is possible and life is an adventure. I fell in love with the many worlds of the literary parallel universe. Stars in my eyes, I took it upon myself to discover every nook and corner of that fantastic place, to explore every place, meet every character, live a thousand lives and love a thousand loves. I still have a long way to go.