Long before I became a writer, I was a reader. I still am. I remember the exact moment my love affair with books began. My mother set the stage by taking me and my brother to the library and checking out the very best picture books. She always managed to find interesting stories combined with fabulous artwork. She read to us in a soft yet commanding voice, often in character, and her tone never condescended no matter how simple the story.
Mom further instilled my love of books when she started my own little library purchased from various book clubs listed in the back of children’s magazines. I still have my entire collection, and when I married, I inherited all of my husband’s childhood books. Score!
Still, it wasn’t until the third grade that I discovered for myself what a treasure a book truly is. My best friend at the time proposed a contest in which we would check out the same book during library time at school. Then we would race to see who could finish the book first. Our selection was Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods. I trusted I would enjoy the book, but admittedly, my competitive side prompted me to read and win.
Determination to finish first meant that the book went with me to a sleepover at my cousins’ house. While all the other kids played football in the street, I stayed inside and read. In my defense, I wasn’t missing much; it was only football.
Something happened as I sat curled up on my aunt’s couch. The story opened up for me in a way that previous books never had. It’s not that I hadn’t read on my own prior to this or that other books weren’t as good. I remember the wonderful feeling I experienced when my imagination blended with visualizing the story in my head as I read the words on the page. Excitement almost distracted me when I realized how much I loved reading.