Lately while I’ve been “book hunting” (aka browsing thrift stores, used book stores, and book sales), I’ve been purchasing copies of ANY Ramona Quimby book I can find. Beverly Cleary, I
blame *ahem* thank YOU for turning my childhood heart onto reading.
I remember always being a reader as a child. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have my nose in a book, when I wasn’t considered a bookworm. I remember practically squealing with delight each time one of those new Scholastic book orders were handed out in elementary school. When the book shipments came in, I was in Heaven. I always had the largest stack of books, by the way (thanks Mom and Dad for supporting and encouraging my addiction from an early age). I would look at those books and their glorious shiny covers and feel so much delight. Once, as a gift, I received a Nancy Drew boxed set from my mother, and I carried it around the house with me for several days. I was a bizarre child, yes, but I found my passion so early in life and for that I am so grateful. Sometimes life gets confusing and hard, but I know who I am: I am a nerd. I am a lover of the English language, grammar, and spelling. Most of all, I am a booklover and a bookworm, and I have no shame in that. In fact, I am proud to call myself all of those things. It’s who I am. It’s who I’ve always been.
I love books for many reasons. I thank my mom, first of all. She is just as big of a reader as I am. Her love for reading rubbed off on me as a child and has only grown exponentially throughout the years. I am certainly my mother’s daughter, though slightly nerdier. So to my mom, thank you for introducing to me what has become my life’s passion. Thank you for encouraging me to read. My vocabulary has exceeded that of my peers because of this. Just kidding. But really, thank you.
Another reason for my love of reading is also the escapism factor. When I was little, I was so painfully shy and awkward, and had such a hard time making friends. I can remember crying about this as a child. I felt I didn’t fit in. Today, at 21, I am still an extremely shy person, but luckily, I have a couple of the best friends in the world. I am still awkward, but in what I hope is an endearing way. I make myself laugh on an almost daily basis, and my friends think I’m quite funny as well. Hey, as long as they’re laughing WITH me, right?
Anyway, reading was vital for me while I was growing up for those reasons. Books became my friends. Ramona Quimby and Pippi Longstocking made me laugh when I had no friends to do that for me. Anastasia Krupnik became the perfect companion. The Little Women became the sisters I never had and Alice McKinley (Phyllis Reynolds Naylor) became my best friend. I jump with joy when a new Alice book comes out because I have been reading her books and following her story since I was about 7 or 8 years old. As her story progresses and her life changes, so does mine, and I have always been almost the same age as she has in the series. We have grown up together. She feels real to me and I am overjoyed that her story has not yet ended.
I no longer need fictional characters to be my friends, as I have my own in real life. But I rely on these fictional characters for a laugh or a smile when I’m feeling down, and sometimes for a good cry. They can always brighten my day and I know they will never leave me. They will always be there, as my patient, perfect, and very first friends.
So here is a giant “thank you” to the authors who have shaped my life and who made me feel not so alone as a child. You changed me. You gave me friends for life. I can never repay you for what you have done for me. I am who I am because of all of you.
Three authors stand out in my mind: Beverly Cleary, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor and Megan McCafferty. These women have been 3 life-altering authors for me.
Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series got me through my childhood. It remains my favorite series today and are the books that turned me onto reading. Never have I met a character that made me laugh so much.
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s Alice series has been in my life since the early 90’s and continues to remain a part of my life, as new installments are still being released. Never have I met a character that feels so real to me as Alice does.
Megan McCafferty’s Jessica Darling series (starting with Sloppy Firsts) got me through my adolescense, and I literally bawled at the end of the final installment, Perfect Fifths, last year. Never have I missed a character so much as I miss Jessica Darling.
So there you have it. The reason I am a bookworm, the reason I am becoming a librarian, and the reason I am who I am. I am a proud bookworm.