Share a Story ~ Shape a Future: How I Fell In Love With Reading

I'm pleased to be a guest host for the 2011 Share a Story ~ Shape a Future literacy campaign! This year's theme is Unwrapping the Gift of Literacy! All week, bloggers have been talking about reading, hosting guest authors and giveaways, and generally promoting literacy. I highly suggest you go check it out!
     My job this year? To gather stories of how some top children's book authors and illustrators fell in love with reading. Some are straight quotes while others will lead you to more in depth thoughts on their own blogs, but all are an inspiration.
     And to celebrate this year's theme, I'm hosting a GIVEAWAY! In the comments, please share - how did YOU fall in love with reading? If I receive at least 50 comments, I'll do a drawing and the winner will receive one of my books - their choice!
     And don't forget - along with the images below, I have an entire section of reading-related coloring pages at Coloring Page Tuesdays: I Love to Read!
     Now on to the quotes...

     My love of reading began as I sat by my mother's side and she read me stories. She had a low, lyrical, expressive reading voice and I was mesmerized by the books she chose: FERDINAND, MILLIONS OF CATS, MADELINE. I learned to read that way. We had to haul back books in the bus from the Newport News Library. It was during the WWII war years and we were living with my grandparents in Virginia without access to a car, so mother not only carried the books, she carried my baby brother Stevie as well. But as she was a huge book lover, too, she never complained. Twice a week we would make the trip. It was heaven to me.
- Jane Yolen, author of over 300 books and often called the modern day Hans Christian Anderson

I was the only child of parents who both worked long hours. And I lived in a small town which didn't allocate much money for keeping kids entertained after school. Thank goodness for books! I discovered the library early on, its comforts and its joys. Books became not just friends but traveling companions–windows onto the big wide world I couldn't wait to get out into!
- Ellen Wittlinger, author of This Means War!, Parrotfish, and many other award-winning titles

     Your request reminds me of a bit that I wrote about discovering books for Seven Impossible Things a couple of years back:
     "Think back to that moment, that afternoon when you were 8 or 9 years-old in a library poking around, half-bored, looking for something that may interest you, and then diving 20,000 leagues under the sea, or flying off to fight pirates in Neverland, later that night – gripped by the author’s word combinations and the illustrator’s vivid pictures.
     But really, when you think about it, its all just marks on paper. Icons. Symbols. Representations of someone else’s idea of how they see the world. The storyteller can be alive and well, crafting new tales in the comfort of their home, or dust and memories from another time. If it speaks to you, it doesn’t matter.
     That’s when there is true magic.
     That’s when the outside world stops while you turn the pages.
     That’s the moment I aspire to be a part of."

- Tony DiTerlizzi, Spiderwick, etc.!
     Click here to read the rest of the interview at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast

     I fell in love with reading thanks to an old edition my family had of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, the one with the N.C. Wyeth illustrations.
     I learned later that RLS began his story by drawing a treasure map for his nephew. I've always loved drawing maps, drawing pictures, and writing stories—and all of that led to a love of reading, and later the creation of Dinotopia.

- James Gurney, Click here to read more about the map of Dinotopia.

     I fell in love with reading when the letters in THE CAT IN THE HAT began to form words that I could sound out and understand. How exciting! It was like my beloved puzzles - there was a sense and an order to it, and - a STORY. I remember reading that book the first time, then going back to the beginning and starting over. By the time I'd finished it again, I knew I had got hold of something special - reading! Magic!
- Deborah Wiles, author of Countdown, Each Little Bird That Sings, and other award-winning titles

     Charles Gigna, a.k.a. "Father Goose" wrote a lovely poem about how he fell in love with reading, writing, and drawing. Here's the teaser:
Something Else

a picture book proposal
about a real boy who loves to read, write and draw,
but whose unconventional “books” and artwork
bring grave concern to his teacher.

In all her years in the classroom
Mrs. Barren had never seen anything like
Charlie's little out-of-this-world books.

Something must be done to stop him.

     Click here to go read his story, SOMETHING ELSE.

     "I did not fall in love with reading so much as I fell into reading with a kind of wide-eyed rapture. It was Delhi, India, 1961. I was five, and the book was The Three Little Kittens, an award I won for being the "most improved" in my kindergarten class. I read it fast and furiously and many times over, out loud as best as I could. I read it mostly to the neighbor's dog, the only audience willing to sit still for the duration."
- Uma Krishnaswami, author of Monsoon, The Happiest Tree, and The Grand Plan to Fix Everything.

     I wasn't a big reader... until my mom started bringing me a diet of Alistair MacLean, Robert Ludlum, and Agatha Christie. They weren't books written for kids my age, but that didn't matter. Reading what I loved made reading fun. And who doesn't like to have fun?
- Gregory K. Pincus, children's poet and novelist

     Reading and writing goes hand in hand, and to be a good writer you really do need to be a good reader. Not only do those stories show us how to tell a great tale, they inspire us to want to tell a great tale that takes our readers to the same places our favorite books take us.
- Janice Hardy, author of The Healing Wars fantasy series.
Read about how Janice not only fell in love with reading, but with writing as well at The Other Side of the Story.

     Hearing the nursery tale "The Sky is Falling" nestled beside my plumpish, perfumed grandma who read to me in her Russian accent, lending the characters, e.g. "Dawky Lawky," an exotic air.
- Sarah Lamstein, author of Big Night for Salamanders

     I have loved books ever since I can remember, but I remember falling in love with stories in third grade as a means of self-preservation. I had a sour third grade teacher named Sister Mary Analise. She should not have been asked to or told to teach third grade. She was ancient and tiny and wielded a slashing pointer like a lion tamer with a whip. She glared at us every morning as we shuffled in as if she were sniffing something unpleasant. (to be continued...)
- Kerry Madden, author of the beloved Smoky Mountain Trilogy and others. Read the rest of the story about Sister Mary Analise at Mountainmist.

     I had checked out a book from my elementary school library. A fat book. The fattest book I'd ever borrowed. It was due the next day and I had barely started it. I wasn't convinced that I would–or even could–finish it, but I lay crossways on my bed and started reading.
     And reading.
     And reading.
     The characters were so real; the situation a devastating one. I read and cried and read and cried until I did finish. I knew then that I wanted to read more books just like it. Books that drew me in and painted worlds so real that they could move me to laughter and tears.
That's how I fell in love with reading. The book? THE YEARLING by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.

- Marcia Jones, author of Ratfink, Champ, This Side of Magic, and more.

     The nature of falling in love is that it’s often unpredictable and unexpected. Falling in love with reading is like having a passionate affair that never gets old or boring. Until the day we die, we can lose ourselves in stories that fascinate, shock, entrance, or inspire us to do good in the world.
- Vicky Alvear Shecter, author of Cleopatra Rules and the forthcoming Cleopatra's Moon, recalls how she first fell in love with the subject that has consumed her reading choices at "History With a Twist."

     No doubt about it, my mom started me off. She loved to read and read to me a lot. I became a good and fast reader early on. My relatives were in the book business so I’d get boxes of books as gifts. And with libraries nearby, I never seemed to run out of books. My earliest literary passion was the Oz series, no matter who was filling in for Baum. I shared the books with two other Oz-loving children in the house we lived in, high up on Mt. Washington in LA. This was before TV. Imagine that! Since then, for me, even TV can’t compete with a good book ( though I do love TV too).
- Phillis Gershator, author of Who's in the Forest, Sky Sweeper, and more.

     ..."because Andy read a book in the 4th grade that captured his imagination, not only did he get to go to Mars, so did I! You never know which book a child will fall in love with so it only makes sense to keep offering kids as many diverse options as there are stars in the sky."
- Loreen Leedy, author/illustrator
Read Loreen's entire story of how she fell in love with reading at "How I Went to Mars."

     I fell in love with reading when my mother read "The Two Jungle Books" aloud to my twin and me. I became Mowgli, living in the jungle with a pack of wolves! What kid could have asked for more?
     Now Chil the Kite brings home the night,
     That Mang the bat sets free –
     The herds are shut in byre and hut
     For loosed till dawn are we.
     This is the hour of pride and power,
     Talon and tush and claw.
     Oh hear the call! - Good hunting all
     That keep the Jungle Law!
     - Rudyard Kipling

- Sally Keehn, author of Gnat Stokes and the Foggy Bottom Swamp Queen, and many, many more.

     I fell in love with reading upon returning to the U.S. from Germany, where my father was stationed. We had lived in an apartment house outside the base, and everyone in our little town spoke German only, except my parents. Somehow moving back to the land of the English-speakers coincided with learning to read. Imagine my joy – and my mother's – as she took us to the library almost immediately upon returning home. It was the New Rochelle Public Library in New Rochelle, New York. My mother asked the librarian for something appropriate for her little daughter who was trying to read, and she handed me the best book in the world: Little Bear. I clearly remember watching closely as my mother read Little Bear to me – how edgy I felt when he "lands on the moon" and knocks on the door of a house that looks just like his Earth house – and I remember realizing that I could read the words myself. I still know every word – and I named a daughter for Little Bear's friend Emily.
- Karen Romano Young, author of "Doodlebug: A Novel in Doodles."

     How did it start? It may have been when, on the day I came home from the hospital, my father sat down and read a book with me. Or possibly when my mom entertained my infant self by reading aloud, sometimes even the junk mail. I’m not sure exactly when my baby eyes managed to focus enough to understand what was going on, but by the age of 4 I had already been exposed to enough great books to want to tell my own stories. So I’d dictate them to my mom, who would type them into her typewriter. By kindergarten I was a four-books-under-the-pillow-at-naptime champ, and reading together before bedtime was a family Have To.
- Terra Elan McVoy, author of Pure and After the Kiss. Read more of Terra's journey at The Importance of Sharing a Story. (It's a great read!)

     For myself? As an illustrator, the images pulled me into books first. I used to stare at my favorite, The Golden Book of Elves and Fairies illustrated by my hero - Garth Williams, for hours wishing I could visit the worlds on its pages. What about the words? Well, my parents had a great idea to promote reading in our home. For every 'regular' book my sister and I read, we earned $1. However, for every classic we read, we had to write a one page report on what made it profound, and we made $10. Needless to say, I read a lot of classics! The Arabian Nights especially stood out as one of my favorites. What adventure - what a thrill!
- Elizabeth O. Dulemba, children's book author/illustrator. This is my blog, thanks so much for stopping by!

Want to support literacy? For over 50 years, Reading is Fundamental has been responsible for getting millions of books into the hands of children who otherwise might not even own a book. Sadly, they just lost their funding and could use our help:

P.S. - Click here for more 'I love to read' themed coloring pages like the ones you see above.
P.S.S. - And yes, that's one of my coloring pages used as the logo for Share a Story ~ Shape a Future: Storytime Bears.


Cathy C. Hall said...

Oh, I LOVED reading how these authors fell in love with reading!

I fell in love with reading when my mom joined up with Golden Books the summer before I turned 6. I can still remember the Just So Stories (Richard Scary)and A Child's Garden of Verses (Kipling). But my absolute favorite was "A Pickle for a Nickel." I loved that story about a shy little boy. And even though I've outgrown my shyness, I'll never outgrow "A Pickle for a Nickel."

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

This is a super post. What fun you must have had ferreting out the quotes!

I fell in love with reading because of my parents and my first grade teacher, Mrs. Strickland.

We used McGuffey's Eclectic Readers and OH the stories! Made you want more!

Thanks for sharing...

Unknown said...

I'm so happy and honored to have been included in this great discussion, with so many terrific authors! Thanks, Elizabeth!!

Tracy Barrett said...

What wonderful memories from wonderful people! I wish I could remember when I fell in love with reading but it feels like it was always there.

Liz said...

I've never fallen in love with reading because it's in my blood. My grandmother and mother are big readers. As a child, I begged/bugged my parents to read Snow White to me so often I memorized the story. My blood vessels probably carry words through my veins.

Happy Birthday Author said...

I was not a big fan of reading when I was younger. Therefore, I feel that I am making up for lost time as I enjoying reading children's books with my kids more than anything in the world.

Books give me a vehicle to have conversations with them. Books allow us to laugh together. Books allow us to cry together. Books help us close out each day and be thankful that we have each other.

Ann Downer said...

I think I fell twice, once in my mother's lap, listening to her read aloud, when I thought the ability to read was developmental. I would open a book someday, I thought, and know how to read. Then I fell again, when my second-grade teacher read us The Little House in the Big Woods.

Ana said...

I fell in love with reading with...Christopher Pike YA novels. I know. Now I am a literary gal and a writer, but those novels created a world for me in which I could escape to when mine was too hard.

Lindsey Lane said...

I fell in love with reading through a book called Caroline. Now long lost. It was a treasury of stories, I think. I loved following her through adventure after adventure. Particularly on rainy days when I couldn't go outside. She became my best friend. I still think of her and wonder where she is.

Thank you for this post.

S. Mozer said...

My love affair with reading began by observing my parents obsessions with books. Our living room coffee tables and end tables were packed high with novels and library visits were part of our weekend schedule. My father loved fantasy and as early as third or fourth grade he started passing me the novels he was reading. The Xanth Series by Piers Anthony and The Hobbit come to mind, but I know there were many others.

Naieva Bookist said...

My love of reading came later in life. In my twenties I picked up a copy of Sophie's Choice and someone told me I "couldn't" read that because it was too tough for me. Luckily my stubborn streak kicked in and I was determined to read it. Saddest story every told. I bawled for days! After that, I bought every magazine and book in sight. Another one that always makes me cry, no matter how many times I read it, is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Finished a degree in English Literature, became President on the library board, befriended great children's authors and my house is overflowing with all kinds of books, many signed. All I ever want to do now is read.

Trisha Slay said...

Great post! Oddly enough, I just published a post on my blog that ties in with this subject. Here's a snippet that fits with this conversation:

"I have no memory of a time when books and storytelling were not a huge part of my life. When people ask, “When did you fall in love with reading?” I’m speechless (a nearly impossible feat).

My grandmother kept a two-foot-high stack of mystery novels from the library next to the kitchen table that needed to be refreshed every two weeks. My mother would cart home paper grocery bags filled with used/borrowed romance and mystery novels. (I distinctly remember scrambling over a mini-mountain of those books in order to climb in bed with her after a bad dream.) Even my grandfather, a man forced to quit school after fifth grade, used to read every inch of the daily newspaper before starting any activity for the day.

My very first purse contained two items: a tube of Bonnie Bell strawberry lip gloss and a library card. Before I could actually read, I would carry around picture books and make up the stories to “read” out loud to any audience that would sit still long enough to listen (poor Gramps with his newspaper was a frequent target)."

Kerry Aradhya said...

Thanks for sharing all these wonderful stories! I don't remember when exactly I fell in love with reading, but I do remember especially loving to read Shel Silverstein, Judy Blume, and Beverly Cleary books. Some of my fondest memories of growing up are just sitting alone in my room with these books, being transported to another world :)

Tif Sweeney said...

I am way late in posting a response, but I finally got around to reading all of these wonderful quotes from authors! Thank you so much for compiling these, for helping out with Share a Story once again this year, and for being such a wonderful advocate for literacy in general!

And, in case you are curious . . . I remember loving to take trips to the library with my grandparents, especially with my grandmother. We would get to pick out our very own books and then get a special ice cream treat, followed by curling up on the couch to read! Very wonderful and warm memories!!

I don't remember exactly when I fell in love with reading. Whenever I think back to my younger years, I just remember always having a book in hand!