To say that I cannot remember a time before I could read would be a falsehood. However, I can say that I cannot remember a time before books were a prominent part of my life. Even as an infant, my mother would tote my brother and me to the local library to satisfy her longing for books, and she would always borrow a few children’s books for my brother and me. The first book I remember being excited about checking out was The Clown-Arounds by Joanna Cole. My mother read me the book, I looked at the pictures, and I made up my own stories based on the pictures. Then, my mom would read me the story again, and the cycle would start over. I could not get enough of that book, and I checked it out many times.
As I entered elementary school and learned to read, I could never satiate my longing for reading. I would read books, signs, billboards, and shampoo bottles–my eyes deciphered anything with words. Books became more than a time-filler; they became passageways to foreign lands, windows to view historical families, and portals to times and places beyond physical grasp.
Books taught me more lessons than any experience could have. Before I could even read myself, I Can Read with my Eyes Shut by Dr. Suess explained to me that, “The more you read, the more you know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.” In lower elementary, Valerie Tripp’s character Aunt Minnie taught me the age-old lesson “waste not, want not.” In upper elementary as my love of reading flourished and I incessantly found my nose pointed into books, Lemony Snicket, one of my favorite authors, admonished me to “never trust someone who has not brought a book with them.” In middle school, L. Frank Baum accompanied me on adventures to destinations that I never could have imagined on my own. In high school, I was often reminded by Melody Carlson and Robin Jones Gunn to set my standards high and never settle. Yet, through all the books that I have read, the one lesson that stands out clearer than all is from the book One Eye Laughing, the Other Weeping: The Diary of Julie Weiss by Barry Denenberg: “You can’t get rich selling books, only reading them.”