I first saw this challenge going around a few weeks ago, and then I was tagged by the absolutely lovely Azelyn Klein on her blog Word Storm.
- Challenge at least one person.
- Share the first book you ever read.
- Why did you read it in the first place?
- How did it inspire you to become a writer?
To be honest, I’ve been reading as long as I can remember. Despite having dyslexia and not being in half of my reading and english classes in elementary school, I still spent half of my free time reading, and the other half of it playing with my sister in our yard or behind that school, which was just up the hill from our house.
I remember being obsessed with stories about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and even seeking out the abridged translations. I would almost always ask for three or more books whenever there was an occasion to have a wish list, and they usually completely filled my Christmas list. I would go to the library weekly (or more frequently) with my family to get movies and more and more books. I always wanted the newest Language at a Glance editions, and almost cried when my parents gave me the French and Italian copies for my birthday one year. The reason I got in trouble most as a kid was because of staying up late into the night reading with a flashlight that had low batteries while attempting to hide the glow (and my disobedience) from my parents. The few times I was grounded was actually from reading since my parents couldn’t think of any other privileges to take away from me.
All of that is to simply state this one fact: I don’t actually remember the first book I read on my own.
I remember being told that we would be read Ella Enchanted as a class by our school librarian and going to pick up a copy later that week to read it ahead of time. I somehow enjoyed it being read to me more than reading it myself and was confused that the book captured my imagination more the second time around. I’m guessing it was because different perspectives make different words and scenes stand out more, but young me didn’t seem to even think of that possibility.
The first time I remember getting in trouble for reading past my bedtime, I was grasping the sides of a book I had read many times before: Alula-Belle Braves Ice Cream Beach. I was so in awe of her baffling name, that I actually tried to memorise the entire book. (Her name is Alula-Belle Button-Top Paintbrush Paccini Softshoe Magrew.) But even still, I don’t believe this was the first book I read.
The first book that made me want to write, however, is one that I do remember. I believe I was in second grade, and I had just experienced the annual Scholastic Book Fair, and I used the amount of reading points I earned that year to buy Just Ella. I had a difficult time choosing between that and The Bad Beginning. But I was enraptured by the idea of a Cinderella retelling that was different from the Disney movie or the original Charles Perrault short story (I had an odd fascination with the origins behind fairy tales and nursery rhymes that led to crazy recurring nightmares). I read the book in a matter of a couple days and still own it to this day. The story takes place after Cinderella has been whisked away from her dreary and difficult life slaving away for her stepmother and stepsisters to the castle where her Prince charming is learning to rule. She encounters the difficulties of trying to become, not just a lady, but a princess and finds the social differences to be rather absurd and contrary to her personal beliefs and preferences.
I fell in love with how Margaret Peterson Haddix depicted the royal staff and discussed social injustices that are still found today, though the circumstances may be different. I loved the character development and dynamics. And I adored reading such a different take on such a popular story.
All of these aspects inspired me to tell similar stories. Stories of people who want to make a change in the world. People who improve their own circumstances, beyond all odds. People who realise that what they wish for may have different outcomes and emotions tied to their greatest desires than they thought. People who truly care for others. People who have difficulty understanding and accepting who they are both alone and in the eyes of society. People who do everything they can to overcome the troubles that they face, and those who struggle to even get out of bed. Each and every story is of such great importance. I know I’ll never be able to tell all the stories that deserve to be told, that I wish to tell, or that myself or others need to hear, but if I write just one book that changes someone’s life or perspective, I will have succeeded.