I don’t remember when I learned to read. At some point, the squiggles in my books transformed into letters. Then they became words that created page after page of stories.
What I do remember is the parade of characters that populated my childhood: a little bird on a hunt for his mother, a mischievous cat with a preposterous hat, dogs racing to a party in a tree. Even a spot-juggling animal with a winsome knack for entertainment.
These books and many more came to me from the Random House Beginner Book Club. I remember the feeling of anticipation that washed over me as I slid a new book out of its cardboard packaging.
Books became treasures that still line my shelves. Even before I could read, they captivated me. I listened with glee for the sound of the Snort in Are You My Mother? I cringed when I thought that all of those car-racing dogs were about to have a huge pile-up.
One book I read repeatedly was Come Over to My House by the inimitable Dr. Seuss. It featured children from exotic locales all warmly inviting the reader to visit. I chimed in on the refrain: “Come over to my house. Come over and play!” I pored over its illustrations of children in other countries and imagined myself as a visitor in their captivating homes. What would it be like to travel on streets of water or sleep on a wooden pillow?
This is the power of books. This ability to transport us. We imagine ourselves bigger. We imagine the world bigger.
Mysteriously, the world grows smaller at the same time. We learn to care. We discover that others whom we’ve never met feel as we do.
Now I am a children’s author with the very same publisher that brought me my first childhood books. I still love a good story. Like nothing else, stories move us. They inspire us, challenge our preconceptions, and help us to imagine the world as we want it to be.
In these pages, we will celebrate together the many ways that children’s books bring good to the world. We’ll hear from people whose lives have been touched by the wonder of books, and we’ll talk about how to make sharing books with kids a life-affirming experience.
As a child, I knew I couldn’t actually visit all of the places portrayed in Come Over to My House. But how the world has changed since then! With a tap of a finger, we can video-chat with friends on the other side of the globe or read the thoughts of a stranger who lives continents away.
I hope that when you visit these pages you will feel as though you are dropping in on a friend. Come over to my virtual house. Put your feet up. Find a cozy blanket. Sip some tea or munch on a favorite childhood treat. Let’s listen to each other’s tales of finding good books to share.
How about you? What are some of the first books you remember?
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