My second-grade teacher continued scribbling words on the board. ‘Difficult Words’ she called them and I loved them anyways. They didn’t seem so difficult, for all I had to do was join the sounds of the letters and test out pronunciations till one of them felt right to my ears. I noted the words, happy about the fact that I now had more words to play with.
Fast forward two years, and I am being handed a sheet of weekly vocabulary comprising 20 words, in the fourth grade. I looked forward to the weekend to be able to sit down with a dictionary and look for the words and make two sentences with each of the words. The excitement could be compared with that of receiving a Lego set and thinking of all the models that could be built with the pieces. Vocabulary was a vacation!
Librarians became my friends over the years and that was important because there was no other way of getting extra books issued to you. They would trust me and issue a book on their card for me. I wanted to read EVERYTHING.
The first books I read were abridged and illustrated versions of children’s classics. I remember reading Winnie-the-Pooh, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and I would read them over and over again till I had the lines memorised. I played the stories out in my mind and it was pure joy to be able to do that. The more I read, the more it felt like a superpower to be able to watch it in my head. Of course, I thought I was the only one who could do that, and let’s say a part of me still believes that.
I just finished re-reading Winnie-the-Pooh again and it was wildly exciting. There is so much wisdom infused into children’s books; even if doesn’t make sense to the children reading them, some of it influences their logic system and adds to their personality.
At the age of 25, I believe I am fairly experienced when it comes to basic thought processes and types of people. Milne came along and changed that. Pooh is such a voice-in-my-head character and though you know he is a figment of imagination, you give him credit for having a lot of brains for a Bear of Very Little Brain. The concepts they illustrate seem ridiculously simple, but isn’t that the point of books for children? From time to time, I switch to children’s classics just to feel that simplicity in the way ideas are stated.
The books we transition into as adolescents and adults are quite complex and comprise multiple layers for us to cut through before we get to the feeling that was intended upon reading the book. We begin calling books an experience, instead of a book that just told you something that you didn’t know. That’s all I want on some days – the joy of reading about something I don’t know.
That’s how it started for me – a set of Childcraft books, an encyclopedia for children. The set covered everything from Nature to History and I couldn’t stop reading it because there was so much to know. The feeling of encountering something new is what lights me up and fires my soul and brain. It’s exhilirating!
As I continued reading, I began to see that new concepts or thoughts can come as a result of characters in stories as well, and not just through facts and general knowledge. I was critically reading stories and novels long before I learnt Criticism in Literature classes. I considered the characters and situations as reality and that changed the way I interacted with people and situations.
There is a famous quote by C.S. Lewis that goes ‘We read to know we are not alone’, and I never was. I always had my books to turn to if I didn’t understand something or someone. I would look for parallels like a detective looks for clues and it was rainbows when I found one. I seemed quiet, but my mind was a riot of new words and stories.
Re-reading books is a magic of its own kind, as is the way our perspective changes the book. Our change in perspective shows us how much we’ve grown and morphed into people we wouldn’t imagine would be. My books help me see that and I know where to find joy whenever I need it. It’s right there on my shelf ❤
[Photo Credits: Fictionographer <– Click here to view more of his amazing photostories!]
I would like to thank Mr P a.k.a. Fictionographer for capturing my joy! It’s one thing to feel it light up my insides, but it is fantastic to be able to show it through this beautiful photograph.
Reader. Learner. Dreamer.
I am all about the little things in life!