What’s the first book you remember making an impact on your life? For me it was James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl.
The way I remember it is that Mrs. Merritt, my first grade teacher, gathered all of us grade ones in a corner, she sat on a low chair in front of us, and read. Her voice would make different sounds and if there was a picture she’d turn it to all the children sitting at her feet and show them.
Did she read to us everyday? I don’t know. Probably not, but what I do know for sure is that it changed my life.
With no effort whatsoever– my imagination took off. I could see everything she read. The wonderful peach tree, the hill, ladybug, the caterpillar…it was all right there in front of me. It was more than magical. It was a gift she provided without even realizing.
Now, you need to remember I came from a family of eight children and there wasn’t a lot of extra money or time just laying around. I don’t have memories of being tucked in or being read to…I’d remember that, right? Hmmm…
I know I had one book. That was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. My sister brought it back from DisneyLand as a gift for me. It was something to be treasured. I still have that book today. That was a special book too but it was the chapters and story line of James and the Giant Peach that grabbed me a few years later and didn’t let go.
When I entered school books became life. They were an escape, an adventure–heck they were a whole new world!!
That love of reading has never left me. In fact it grew into a career. I used to read until 4 o’clock in the morning. Just one more chapter, I’d tell myself, and now I want to do that for others.
Today, with so many distractions with electronics, I’d encourage all adults–aunties, uncles, moms, dad, teachers, brothers, sisters…to read to the young people in your life. Open up a different world in their imagination that has nothing to do with a tablet. It really is a gift.
Oh, I must tell you–the next book that Mrs. M read to the class was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.
Well, now I needed to add the realm of dreaming, fantasy, and possibility to the things that reading gave me.
It really has been the gift that has kept on giving.
Thank you to all the great teachers out there who share their love of reading with students. Don’t ever stop.