As a kid, I really didn’t want anything to do with reading. Books were boring! Why would I want to sit still and read when I could instead be running around making messes and climbing trees? I knew both my parents loved to read but young me didn’t care about what my parents liked. They didn’t know how fun it was to make mud cakes and play pretend.
That all changed when I was camping with my family and got my first ever migraine. You see, migraines run in my family but no one expected I’d get my first one at such a young age. I can’t imagine how awful that must have been for my parents! Imagine being out in the wilderness and having your 8 year old wailing that their head felt like it was going to explode!
Well, my mom did what all great parents do and tried to distract me from the pain. I didn’t want to colour and there was no way I’d be able to take a nap with my head splitting open. I didn’t want to play with my sister and there was no way I was going to suffer in silence. Of course I didn’t want a snack to help me calm down. So my mom sat me down in front of the campfire, tucked a blanket around me, and handed me one of the books she’d brought to read throughout the week we’d be there.
So there I was, a grumpy little girl far from the comforts of home (though I was loving the trip until my head decided it wanted to kill me) with nothing to do and a book in my lap. Sure I read the occasional picture book – what 8 year old kid didn’t have to for school? But I’d never gone out of my way to pick up a book if I didn’t have to. And this book didn’t even have pictures!
Grumbling about it (there’s no way young me wasn’t vocal and full of Grump), I looked at the book my mom had forced on me. Cube Route by Piers Anthony. The cover was colourful but it was so thick! What kind of 8 year old that doesn’t even like to read picture books would be able to get through an almost 400 page novel? But… would the inside be as pretty as the outside?
Lucky for me, my mom knew what I’d like before I knew what I’d like in a book. Cube Route is full of magic which was just perfect for a little girl who wished for magic of her own. Sure it wasn’t a book for a kid, but my mom knew I wasn’t interested in children’s books. I found them boring, after all. By handing me this book my mom was able to introduce me to the power of imagination – grownup style.
And, I’m sure my mom has grown to regret it over the years but Cube Route was my first true introduction to puns. Xanth might be a magical world and that’s how my mom was able to convince me to give it a shot but it was the puns that got me hooked. She created a little terror when it came to puns that day. And you’d better believe that young me was serious about puns. They had to be good, but they couldn’t come from my dad!!
More importantly, you’d better believe I devoured that book even as a little kid. I stopped complaining about my head and had my first experience being completely absorbed in a fictional world. The pain disappeared as I popped into the lives of characters that will always remain special to me. Piers Anthony became my first taste of the reader life and after then I was addicted.
It’s a good thing my mom had brought 3 Piers Anthony books that camping trip because by the time we left the campsite this 8 year old had devoured all of them. I decided maybe sitting quietly for a couple hours wasn’t so bad after all. My mom was able to change me from a kid who hated reading to one who’s content sitting quietly and reading all day long. Sure I still get grumpy when people interrupt my reading, but I just blame that on my first experience with real reading being mixed with childhood Grump.
That camping trip marked my transition into readerhood. Sure, I began to read age appropriate stories like the Magic Treehouse series but my mom also went out of her way to get more of Piers Anthony’s Xanth novels to keep fostering my budding love. If it weren’t for this I can’t say I’d get such enjoyment out of a good book today.
My love of reading has only grown since that fateful day.
What was the moment that you can remember most vividly falling in love with reading? Did you always love reading or was it a particular book or series that opened your eyes to the world of reading? Everyone has their own reader origin story and I’d be interested to hear about yours.