Friday, February 10, 2012

When Did You First Fall in Love, with Books?



I feel a little silly sharing this video and writing this post after all the great, deeply researched, and courageously shared posts by my fellow Mayhemers lately, but this has been on my mind, and the video is fun! So I'm writing it anyway.

First things first, I love this parody, because this guy, whoever he is, is so fearless in his love of Harry Potter, and is not the least bit uncomfortable rocking his nerd card - hard. That's inspiring to me, because when I was young, and especially in middle school and as a teen, I was often ashamed of my passion for things like books, dungeons and dragons, and imagination in general. It just wasn't considered cool to be into those things, and I often got called nerd - or worse.

This guys has no such fear, and I really love it, because now that I'm old, I feel the same way. Books are cool. Imagination is cool. Expressing yourself is cool. I'm so glad that culture has changed enough (many thanks to Jo Rowling for being a huge part of that) that my kids are very popular, and yet also very bookish.

Anyway, I wanted to talk about falling in love with books, and poll our readers to hear their stories too. Before I get to mine, I just want to talk about the part of this video that really inspired this post. The nerdy singer guy is cool, but it was something else that made me write this post.

The wand battles are very cool, and look like so much fun, but there is this scene at the end, after 3:30, where the little kids leave some books on the porch of an even littler kid, and it's like he's discovering this amazing new world of fantasy and adventure, and you just know his life is going to change forever - for the better. I'm not ashamed to admit watching that kid pick up that book and fall into it's pages makes me cry, just a little bit, every single time.

I think Jo Rowling gave the world a beautiful gift when she gave Harry Potter to our children, but it became even greater than the sum of its parts when our children gave it to us. I have a very cool, and slightly embarrassing story about how I came to love Harry Potter, but it's not for this post.

Today I want to share with you about how I first fell in love with books. I was the middle of three children, with two sisters. My dad was the stage manager for the Seattle Opera, so he was rarely home, but when he was, he often shared his love of books. He and my mom had this huge California king-sized bed, and it was so big our whole family could fit on it. My sisters and I would snuggle between mom and dad, and dad would read to us - from The Lord of the Rings. I remember like it was yesterday the first time I met Frodo and attended Bilbo's birthday party, and to tell you the truth, my heart has never really left Hobbiton. Like George R.R. Martin, I'd forsake heaven, as long as I could end up in Middle Earth.

The first book I read by myself (that I can recall after picture books and early readers) was the Hobbit, a natural progression after falling so in love with Tolkien's work. I was absolutely engrossed. I got the read along illustrated books, the Rankin-Bass production on betamax, everything I could get my hands on that would allow me to continue the dream. Technically, I was a bit below middle grade reading level at the time, probably about 7 or 8, but the point is, once I fell in love with books, I never turned back. Making that connection between a book and a young person is what it's all about. It's why we write for children, I believe.

When did you first fall in love with books?

16 comments:

  1. I watched this video with my teenaged daughters and they went off to send it to their friends. I think that is a perfect example of what you are talking about. Loving books is cool again :-)

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  2. I cannot remember a time when I was not in love with books, honestly. I had the great priviledge of spending the first ten years of my life without television. (I know, the horror!!) I spent my time either playing outside with my siblings, thinking up imaginary lands--or reading. I really think this freeing of my imagination was fundamental to my becoming a writer.

    Thnaks for the post, Matt. Somehow I have a hard time believing you were ever called a nerd, but it you were, you now make nerddom sound cool.

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  3. The first book that I read on my own that I remember losing myself in, and then wanting more of the story when it was over, was "The Boxcar Children". I must've been in 3rd or 4th grade....I don't look back on myself as voracious reader as a kid...I would consistently choose playing outside over reading, over anything really, but I loved a good story, and still do. Reading The Outsiders in Junior High and The Catcher in the Rye in High school sealed the deal.

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    1. I remember the Boxcar Books. I loved those too.

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  4. The Hobbit, grade three. Who would've thunk it?

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  5. I'm told when I was in 2nd grade I stopped reading. I had a teacher who turned me off on it. My mother worried I would never read again and then a good teacher in 3rd turned the light switch on and I picked up books again. That's what I've been told. The first book that I really remember turning me on to the sound of words was The Cay by Theodore Taylor. My 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Geller read it out loud to us. She was awesome. I can still picture the story and its powerful ending. I found the Hobbit in 7th grade...

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  6. I remember my dad reading to us a lot, too. (I'm the middle of five.) One of my older brothers would also read choose-your-own-adventure books to me, and let me pick. :)

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  7. This is hard. My childhood was full of books. I remember both my mom reading when she had down time and of course, her reading to me at a very young age.

    Books were shared and discussed often in my house growing up. Of course a few stand out. White Fang, Where the Red Fern Grows and Old Yeller (yeah, the book versions) - I loved my dog and my family recognized that. I read every Encyclopedia Brown book at our school library then by the time I was 11 or 12 I found Stephen King (thanks again Mom). I remember begging her to finish The Night Shift and then talking to her about it afterword. My first real glimpse into a short story collection.

    Mr. King became Uncle Stevie in my house. My mom would bring home a paperback from the library and the race was on as both of us tried to read it before the due date.

    For me, it's impossible to separate a love from a love from family. A tradition I've kept up.

    I wonder what Uncle Stevie is up to now? I better call my mom and find out. :)

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    1. sorry for the typos. I got all teary and shit thinking about this. (I used shit to try to toughen myself back up. I don't think it worked).

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  8. I agree with Paul's comment above. The Boxcar Children was such an important book for me when I was younger. I think I read books like Charlotte's Web and Old Yeller a little too early because I remember being so devastated that I wouldn't read again for a few years--especially books with animals.

    My mom finally pulled me back in with humor books. In particular, I can still remember the year I got Where the Sidewalk Ends for Christmas.

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  9. My dad read the entire Hobbit out loud to me in when I was growing up (probably around 6 or 7). I loved it so much I made him read it again and then by the time I was 8 or 9 I could read it on my own!

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  10. Love the video! Enid Blyton from birth according to mother.

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  11. It's lovely to hear these stories. My parents weren't much into reading, so I am very thankful for all the books I was able to check out of the public library and from school. I don't know when I starting loving to read. I do remember the first book I owned. Someone gave me as a gift a book of poetry, A Child's Garden of Verses. I can still see the cover of that book even now.

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  12. I fell in love with reading as a result of MY SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN in early elementary. I remember thinking that the main character could be me, and thinking that was darn cool. After losing the love for a couple years, THE OUTSIDERS rocked my reading world and I've never been the same. Great post, Matt.

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  13. Chris Flemish2/12/12, 6:32 PM

    Nice topic.
    I loved comic books as a kid and in Europe the comic books are different then in the US as they have a complete storyline in one but other than those I hated books. I never picked them up. We had too from school but I would just quickly do my review of it and never touched them again.
    Then when I was in Bosnia some of our American friends left and left a stack of books behind. I was so borred that I went "Ok what the hell we'll give it a try." So the first book I picked up was from Patricia Cornwell "All that remains." I couldn't put the book down. In two days I finished it. Then I had to wait for several days before I could use a phone. I called home and send my mother to the book store. "Buy every book you can find from her." Two weeks later several boxes filled with books arrived. Now over 500 books later (only counting hardcovers) I can't put them down. I'm addicted. I read from thrillers, to Sci-Fi,Fantasy,Action,fiction,non-fiction,young adult, and so on.
    I sort of feel like the bunny in Alice in Wonderland. "I'm running out of time, I'm running out of time."
    Cheers

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  14. I first fell in love with books when I discovered Grimms' Fairytales. Loved that they were in a book-all togethered. And oddly enough the next book I feel in love with? Go Dog Go by P.D. Eastman, lol.

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Thanks for adding to the mayhem!