Every Sunday, I will post a quote that expresses my love for reading and books.
For the second Sunday, here is a quote from Maya Angelou.
I grew up in a household that didn’t really encourage reading books (except textbooks) so I only discovered the wonder of reading later. My mother wasn’t into it, and although my father did read once in a while, he read mostly non-fiction books. There were some books that my father bought that my parents required me to read though. But it was more of a requirement (a rather unpleasant requirement for me at that time) rather than something I had fun doing.
Even if we were not forced to read any books, there were some books in our house but we rarely touched them. There were fairy tale books that came with cassette tapes. I was supposed to read along as I listen to the tape. My only introduction to Jack and the Beanstalk or Humpty Dumpty was a book given as a gift to my brother. That book was mostly used as a paper weight or a hard surface to place our toys on. I also remember my father buying me a Thumbelina book which I didn’t actually read. I only turned the pages to admire the illustrations. After that, I don’t remember touching a book except my school books. I was a very outdoorsy individual when I was younger. That was about to change.
When I was eleven years old, my teacher (I still remember her because she was very dear to me) announced something that would change my reading life (and my whole life) entirely. Me and my classmates were required to read at least one book every week starting that day. I grumbled silently when my teacher announced this in class that morning. I was having that “I-don’t-want-to-read-no-book-and-you-ain’t-going-to-let-me” moment in my head. We were supposed to pick a book from the mini-library she put up at the back of the classroom. It’s either read or get smacked with a ruler. In return we will get gold star stickers which we can stick to a paper leaf we prepared for this ‘reading challenge’. Later that year, I was in charge of piling the books and cleaning the shelves. I enjoyed this immensely because it meant I could stay back in school for a longer time (which means I have an excuse not to rush home after school) and I could check out the “newest releases” courtesy of my teacher. I was even in put in charge of making the posters about reading and books that were to be placed in that mini-library.
No matter how much I hated that challenge, I had no choice. I got smacked on my hand with a ruler by my dear teacher once (another story). If you’re a child, this is a very strong reminder not to mess up and obey. So I went to the back of the class, looked at all the books and wished they’d undergo some sort of internal combustion. I wasn’t granted that wish. So I picked up some books and read the back covers. I remember there were many Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton books but this didn’t interest me (silly me). What caught my eye was “Jane Eyre“. It was a condensed version, suited for young (and inexperienced) readers like me. I’m not sure why I chose Jane Eyre. It must have been the name… Wait a minute, no! It was the bulk of the book – it was thin compared to the other books. It would be very quick to read. I never thought that by choosing this book, my whole life would be changed.
I found myself reading “Jane Eyre” until past my bedtime. I actually had fun reading it. I never thought that was possible just by reading a book. It was a wonderful feeling. I can’t even put it into words. I was a slow reader and finished in about three days but I moved on to a new book with a new sense of love and appreciation for them. The next book I read was thicker: The Witches by Roald Dahl. That too was a great read.
As I write this post, I am filled with regret that I never expressed my gratitude to my teacher. She changed my life because she made me appreciate the power of books. She made me love them. I should have told her how much I enjoyed reading and it was all because of her.
I went on to read more books that year than I can ever imagine and I never stopped. The rest is history.