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Blake’s Book Bag: The Books that Shape Us

Last updated on February 17, 2016

By: Blake Bouza, Assistant Editor


My grandparents recently told me they read in the “New York Times” that reading the newspaper to a child at a young age can ensure that they will be good readers in the years to follow.

When I was about three or four, my grandfather made a habit of having me sit on his knee while he read the paper.

He’d read certain articles aloud to me while we both sipped at glasses of orange juice like a couple of Old West barflies.

I would gleefully jab my finger at any picture I could find on the black-and-gray canvas and would get particularly excited at any picture involving an airplane.

While my fascination with airplanes may have faded away, a curiosity with the written word did not.

This spark was stoked into a fire with my first encounter with fiction.

The first series of books that I really remember getting into was given to me in third grade by my school librarian, Mrs. Daughtry, a kind, willowy woman who fit the description of a librarian right down to the horn-rimmed glasses.

I was having issues being away from home and making friends and she told me that while she couldn’t sit in class with me, she could give me some books until I saw her again. (Psst, you know how people always say librarians are great people? It’s true.)

These were not just any books. These were books that didn’t have check-out/return stamps in the front covers and said she trusted me to return the books when I was done reading them.

I, eight, accepted that solemn duty.

To this day I still feel guilty about never getting “Vacation Under the Volcano” back to her.

I think she knew exactly what she was doing by introducing me to those books. Namely, this was “The Magic Treehouse” series by Mary Pope Osborne.

The main plot of the series follows the adventures and of the brother-sister duo Jack and Annie as a, well, magic treehouse transports them through space/time into whatever book they happen to be holding.

These books were able to transport me right along with Jack and Annie into histories long past and make them seem relevant and interesting to my eight year-old brain.

I still remember laughing at the scene in The Knight at Dawn when Annie uses her “magic” flashlight to ward off superstitious knights that were bent on capturing the adventurers.

I did end up making good friends that I stuck with through fifth grade before leaving that school, but something was sparked in me and though the loneliness had faded away, I still craved the adventure the stories brought.

Soon after, my mother began reading the “Boxcar Children” mysteries out loud to my sister and me, followed by “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.”

The rest is pretty much history.


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