As we celebrate Children’s Book Week, I thought I’d talk about when I discovered the magic of reading. Not that reading could bring you stories but that reading could transform your world and take you into a new world so deeply that, for a short time, you don’t realize you’re not there.
The book series that gave me this epiphany was The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper. It is a retelling of the Arthurian tale—as told through the eyes and experiences of an eleven year old boy and his friends. His friends included a girl, Jane.
I was nine at the time, living in Belgium, no TV, no real friends. My home was a 300 year old mansion complete with bell tower and escape tunnel (that I wasn’t suppose to know about but I did), and a backyard as big as a football field with an eight foot stone wall. It was easy to get into the books. I was already out of my element and looking for an anchor.
The tale told by Susan Cooper opened my eyes to the magic of reading the day I sat down to read “Over Sea, Under Stone” one afternoon and I came up for air only when I was called to dinner. I was dazed, still in that other world. All through dinner, I was torn between wanting to get back to the book and wanting to tell everyone about it.
In the end, I finished my meal, did my chores as quickly as possible, and went back to my room and into that other world without sharing. I knew the rest of my family would never understand. Except, they did. My parents, especially my mom, were always reading. From that day on, going to the library to get a new book (or five) was my special treat. Ransacking my parents’ library was high on the list, too.
I reread The Dark is Rising series about once a year. They are old friends that bring me comfort and joy with every page turn. It was this discovery of magic that eventually made me into the author I am today.