I’ve been thinking about books.
The funny ones, and the tear jerkers, and the teachers; the change-you books, the entertain-you books, and the enlighten-you books that, over the years, help to determine who you’ll become.
The first book I ever read– really read, on my own– was called Bunny’s Busy Day. And although I forget the specifics (beyond the fact that there was a bunny named Bunny, who was, obviously, very busy), I do remember what it felt like to master a piece of text.
In 4th grade, I read The Diary of Anne Frank and had the spirit-crushing revelation that all people– and not just the faceless them— are capable of doing truly evil things. This book– and the weight of my new understanding–leveled me.
When I was fifteen, I devoured anything that Francesca Lia Block wrote. The Weetzie Bat series helped me to believe in the magic of human potential, and the unconditional love that her characters felt for one another– and for life, in general–made me think that anything was possible.
In college, and then again as a high school English teacher, I encountered Sandra Cisneros and her books Woman Hollering Creek and Caramelo. Her writing voice was melodic, inclusive, brilliant–definitely a voice I’d never heard before– and it was one that totally transformed my perception of what real, capital-L Literature should look like.
The books I spend time with these days are considerably less dense, but no less significant– and, often, no less profound– that those that played such an integral role in shaping the person I am. When I watch Lily “reading” (cat, red, uh-oh), I can’t help but wonder how the writers of her time will help her to map her own course and to make sense of the challenges and choices that she encounters along the way. Most of all, I hope that she, too, will know the pleasure that comes in finding exactly the right words when she needs them the most.
One thing, however, is certain: she’ll be in great shape if she happens to cross paths with an ornery little pig in a red dress :).