A weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish
This weeks topic is “Gateway” books. In other words, books that opened the door and introduced a love of reading to your life. I thought about this for a little while, and how best to do it, so instead of doing an official looking Top Ten list, I’ll be sharing the books that influenced my life in a more conversational/flashbacky way.
Once upon a time…
I’ve always loved books. I’ve always been very introverted and almost reclusive. Some of my earliest memories are of going to the public library, writing stories, and listening to my parents read to me. My parents were always very well read and love to inspire learning and creativity, and how better than through books?
Some of the first books I remember reading were by Dr. Seuss. They seem to be the staple of most peoples childhoods, and to this day I still love Dr. Seuss, mostly for the imagination they inspire in young children.
Surprisingly, many of my earliest book-ish memories revolve around TV. Until I was a teenager we didn’t have cable, so I watch A LOT of PBS Kids. Arthur, Liona, and Levar became my best friends. I tuned in every day without fail. They taught me about not only learning to read, but loving to read (I know, it’s totally cheesy, but 100% true!)
In addition to the excessive amounts of TV I consumed, I watch so, so many Disney movies. They enchanted me, and ultimately helped define who I am as a person. But I wasn’t satisfied with just the movies, I went in search of the books. I read my grandma’s 100 year old book of fairy tales (which I treasure and still have today) and learned about the struggles and triumphs of so many heroes and heroines.
I continued to check out books from the library all the time. I never fit in, and was always very self-conscious, so I would seek out heroines like myself. People who were different, quirky, strange. I found people I could relate to in Rapunzel, Ramona, Matilda, Junie B., and even the stories of my favorite American Girl doll, Molly. (Notice a theme of messy hair and/or glasses?)
By this time I was nearly six, and then my mom introduced me and my sister to a new book. Somebody who didn’t fit in, who discovers magical powers (and has messy hair and glasses), who fights evil, and who has two best friends, one funny, and one smart. Around the same time the movie came out, and soon I was sucked into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I listened to the audiobooks of the series constantly, and could probably recite the entire first book right now. I listened to so many other audiobooks as well, but none has stayed with me quite like Harry Potter has.
After that, I went through a stubborn streak, where I decidedly did not like to read. That period is probably one of the biggest regrets of my life thus far (I’m sure there are many more to come) but then I picked up a little book known as Ella Enchanted. And my life was changed forever. I rediscovered my love for magical books with strong heroines and continued to read more and more. I read the Chronicles of Narnia, and loved them. I read Percy Jackson, and then I learned what I didn’t like so much.
And then I discovered Shannon Hale. I’d heard about The Goose Girl before, so I decided to pick it up (from the LIBRARY!) and I adored it. Every single word was magic. The characters were so real, the writing was thick and rich and beautiful. I’d never read a book quite like it. I think Shannon Hale was really my gateway into Young Adult books, because her books are just at the perfect level of transition. Shannon Hale, indirectly, is also how I discovered the world of book blogging, which has also made such a huge impact on my life.
I’m now starting to look into college and careers, and the career at the top of my list is a children’s librarian, because I would love to see children experience the transformation that comes from reading a new book; the same transformation that has made me who I am now. (Was that cheesy enough for you?)
I covered way more than 10, and that was just scratching the surface!
Which books left the largest impact on your childhood?