For as long as I can remember, books have been my friends. Lacking Facebook, Twitter, and cell phones, maintaining friendships with actual people was quite difficult as my family moved around many, many times, but books were everywhere I went.
In Ohio, as a preschool kiddo, I was treated to many read-alouds before my life drastically changed. My dad enrolled in college and we headed to Texas where I began kindergarten and met Eric Carle’s Hungry Caterpillar and fell in love with Peter in The Snowy Day. More favorites during that time were Hoban’s Frances, the peddlar in Caps for Sale and of course Curious George.
Just before second grade, we headed west and began hopping from city to city in Southern California. This is where my love of chapter books developed. On Rabbit Ears Radio I heard the wonderful story of Mr. Popper’s Penguins while lying in my bed getting ready to sleep. With teachers and on my own, I met Ramona, Sheila the Great, Fudge, and Laura Ingalls Wilder, along with Trixie Belden, Nancy Drew, and the orphans of Frances Hodgson Burnett. I still remember flopping down on a bed reading the wonderful dialect out loud from The Secret Garden. It was so fun to imitate Dickon’s accent and imagine I was there. I also met the Hobbits after seeing the animated movie.
No matter how many times my life was pulled up by the roots, I still had my book friends for refuge. Even if I didn’t own the books, I could count on finding them in the next town’s library. The final city we moved to in California had a University library that I was able to use. I will never forget that library. It was where I read a biography of Lizzie Borden and the murderous axe, Amityville Horror and many other creepy tales. That was also where I read almost every Louisa May Alcott book in existence. I still have one of those books since we purchased it after my new puppy happily used it as a chew toy.
Another great memory is when our fifth grade teacher read Beowulf aloud. Awesome fun! My sixth grade teacher also had us read ten books from the Newbery list. I loved being pushed into new genres and my favorite was From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. It was so cool when we went to the Los Angeles Museum of Art on a field trip and I imagined staying there like Claudia and her brother.
We moved again, and in middle school, I made friends with the librarian. We challenged each other to read War and Peace since I was reading anything set in Russia. We both tackled the shorter Anna Karenina, but I didn’t manage War and Peace until my twenties. Oddly enough, it is actually short if you compare it to the entire Harry Potter series.
I was the new kid so many times, but there were other Nerdy Book Club members out there. I just had to find them. In one of my high schools, I bonded with others over Tolkien. In another it was A Never-Ending Story and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Through trying times, books have been my addiction of choice. They were and still are an escape, but they are also a comfort for my soul, much like mac and cheese or chocolate. I can fall into a book and my troubles melt away, at least for a little while.
Though my childhood wasn’t always entirely stable, I am so grateful that my mother instilled in me a deep love for books. Thanks Mom!
Crystal Brunelle is a Library Media Specialist who dabbles in photography & technology when she’s not busy with family, running, or reading. She is a proud member of the #nerdybookclub. You can find her on Twitter as @librarygrl2 and on her blog at http://readingtl.blogspot.com.