I remember finishing my first long chapter book in 1st grade. It was Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House in the Big Woods. Oh. I was so proud of myself. I raced into my parents room to tell my mom and made a huge sign that I left outside my door to announce it to my dad: I FINISHED! Of course, I also had to admit that I’d been up way past my bedtime, reading by the faint light of the hallway that sashayed into my bedroom.
Well. I was hooked. In my next Scholastic order, I circled nearly every girly-looking chapter book and begged my mom to order them for me. All of them. I asked for rides to the local book store (remember those?) I read. And I read. And I read.
I remember a lunch at the club. I sat at the end of the table, nose in a book as usual, just turning pages and turning pages, oblivious to any chatter and conversation. One of my grandparents’ friends came to the table to greet us and my mom introduced me as “just a little Amy Carter.” I smiled, being considered as bright and interested in reading as a President’s daughter.
When I was a teen, I used to hate finishing books. While many of my friends skipped ahead to the final chapter to get the book over and done with, I’d read until the last chapter. Oh. How I didn’t want those stories to end. Belva Plain books, especially. I wanted to have those characters a part of my life forever. I’ve never finished Evergreen.
I read A Wrinkle in Time. Twice. Once as a middle school child, where I was lost in Meg’s world, experiencing the adventures as she did. I read it again in graduate school, reading an entire different story about life, uniqueness and the simplicity of everyone being the same… and the challenges of being different.
After September 11, all I wanted to do was get lost in a book, to take my mind off the world and get lost in a story. But most books wouldn’t do. I was in my twenties but the only books that interested me were teen-literature. I read a book a day during that scary time. The life is easier books. Where there’s a lot to think about, but life always turns out for the better and no one dies in the end. In 2001 it wasn’t just teens that needed to hear that, it was all of us.
I dreamed the Harry Potter series as I read it. I was so lost in those books that they came to life in my sleep. I was in the castle. I fought the giant right next to Harry, Hermione and Ron. I saw the snake hissing into my eyes.
The Red Tent made me see my life differently. It opened my eyes to a time I knew nothing about. It enveloped my understanding of how far women have come.
“I’m proud to call Skeeter a sister” read my facebook status after completing The Help. A strong character, she inspires reaching beyond. The characters in her story lived within me. I still haven’t seen the movie.
With every book there’s a story. With every character, there’s a theme. Each night, as I lay down to rest, I open my book or turn on my kindle and allow the author to tuck me in, to take me to a place outside my busy life for just a few minutes and lead me into their minds. Reading is relaxing. Reading is uplifting. Reading is moving.
And everything I’ve ever read has become a little part of me.
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© 2012, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.