Childhood Reading

When it comes to why I write, it started with me having an overactive imagination and channeling it onto paper.  My first full-length story was a play that I wrote at the age of 8.  I was in third grade at the time and attending Fishkill Elementary in New York.  My teacher let me cast the other students in our class in different roles and organize an actual production.

So just after my 9th birthday, I was not just a writer, but director and producer for my play, "The Principal Who Hated Easter".  We performed for the younger classes, including my sister's first grade class.  I remember that my best friend, Janine, was the Easter Bunny and a boy who had a crush on me, Jason, was the Principal.  I played the teacher, and the rest of our class were the students.

We had lived in Fishkill for about 3 years (from my first through third grade years of school) and then moved back to our hometown of Bridgewater, Massachusetts that summer.  I really missed Fishkilll, because I had many wonderful friends there.  We didn't keep in touch - it would have been easier if email existed back then - and I wonder about my classmates from way back when.  They were kids after my own heart: creative, imaginative and adventurous.

Back in Bridgewater, I had a hard time making friends, even though I attended Kindergarten and Readiness (basically being held back for Kindergarten) with many of the kids who were now in my fourth grade class.

It's weird to look back at that, because as an adult, I've been the popular social butterfly who everybody knows.  My co-workers back in Massachusetts called me things like "Sunshine" because of my attitude and friendliness, and my friends back in Delaware would always remark that "everybody knows you" when we would attend Pagan Pride and Midsummer Faire.

Well, I suppose those elementary days are what made me delve even further into my writing.

Furthermore, I believe that reading really opened up my imagination even further.

Reading and literacy are very important to me.  As a child, I was thrilled to get lost in the adventures of Black Beauty, Little Women, anything by Roald Dahl, and more.  A mainstay of my childhood reading choices was Nancy Drew and, to this day, I not only read those books, but collect them (anything from first editions to the yellow-spine picture covers).  Right now I am re-reading all of them, starting with The Secret of the Old Clock.

Something about reading brought me great joy.  It gave me female role models, since I did not grow up with a mother, and made me think that this kind of a story might be even more exciting if I added this or that.  My early stories merged the adventures of Nancy Drew and Black Beauty.

By junior high, though, I was delving into fantasy.  The Secret of the Unicorn Queen series was released when I was in eighth grade, and I fell in love with it.  My horses became unicorns and my heroines became chosen ones, able to wield special magick items.

As an adult, my writing has naturally changed through the years (it has, dare I say it, evolved).  But my writing has always been influenced by the things I have read.

I honestly think reading is vital to us, whether we want to write or not.  Literary worlds are invaluable - they are places we cannot find in real life.  When it comes to reading, I encourage my son to read every day.  I prefer real books that he can hold.  If he wants an e-reader when he is an adult, that is up to him, but I want him to understand that electronic devices are not the only things that hold information of value.

Do the books you read in your childhood continue to inspire you, either as a reader or a writer?  If you have children, how do you feel about sharing the literature from your youth with them?

Copyright (c) 2011 Wendy L. Callahan

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