I recently came across this video from Scholastic Book Clubs and I have to say that I love the idea of taking a moment to recognize and share those formative books that made each of us all the readers that we are today. For me, the list is very hard to narrow down to one of two titles. But I know that Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Peter Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, and Morgan Llywelyn’s Bard: The Odyssey of the Irish were all essential to making me the reader (and to some degree, the woman) that I am today.
I should also give credit where credit is due and mention that Scholastic played a big role in making me the reader I am today. When I was in school, they had book fairs that I just adored! (It was the only time I willingly entered my elementary school gym) and every month we used to get these little Scholastic book catalogues where you could order books from. It was tissue-paper thin and very small, (just one long piece of paper, folded to form 4 pages) but I used to love pouring over it, circling which books I desperately wanted to buy. (I ended up with quite a collection of Babysitter’s Club books as a result – I was ridiculously obsessed with the Babysitter’s Club when I was in 4th and 5th grade). My mom always sat down and helped me order something from Scholastic because she had a hard time saying no to her kids when they asked for books (or art supplies or sheet music and other musical supplies) because she had a theory that we should encourage kids when they want to read and be creative. (It was a little hard on her bank account that she had four daughters who were obsessive readers, artists and musicians but I try to make it up to her in hand-knits and handcrafted jewelry now that I am grown and most of my sisters have also given her a lot of their art work too.)
My mom’s role in making me the reader I am today goes way beyond providing the books I obsessed over. Long before I ever set foot in a book fair or circled my first title in a catalogue, my mom would read to me and my sisters. It was a great time of bonding and sharing great books, books like The Giving Tree or The King is at the Door or Tiger Flower or Koko’s Kitten or The Monster at the End of the Book. My mom read to us for years. I even remember us all piling on the couch to listen to my mom read when I was in high school. It’s a time I really remember fondly.
I also want to thank my Grandparents, Ginny and John O’Shea who introduced me to some of the most important books in my life (My grandmother shared a love of Louisa May Alcott with me and my grandfather got me addicted to Irish mythology when he gave me my first Morgan Llywelyn book). They would recommend books to me and then after I had read them, would take me out for lunch or have me over for a cup of tea to discuss the book. I learned a lot about reading and discussing good books from that experience.
So I want to say “thank you” to my mom and my grandparents, to the authors who wrote my favorite books and to Scholastic for making me the reader I am today.