According to the official website, Children's Book Week #CBW14 is the longest running literary initiative in the country. As readers and writers, individually and collectively, the world of children's literature is one to be celebrated.
From building youth literacy to fostering empathy, there are a hundred reasons (or more) to introduce our children to reading, to make sure that ours is a book-friendly household, and that our town or city adequately funds our public libraries.
My first kiddie novel was the "Secret of Moon Castle," an adventure story by the popular British children's author, Enid Blyton. I have no idea why that dog-eared paperback appeared in our old kitchen. I can't remember who owned the book, or why I suddenly picked it up and sat in beside our old kitchen range to read a story set in a spooky old castle where the villain hid inside suits of armor.
I just remember that, from that day on, life changed.
When I look back on my rural Irish youth, I see two childhoods: before reading and after. The "after" part is happier, less lonely and way more emancipated.
Now, in middle age, I know that reading made me a different child, pitched me for a very different adulthood, set me on a very different life course than the one I might have chosen (sans reading). Reading let me voyage beyond the borders of our rural farm, our small village and our tiny island country. Even more important than decoding printed language, reading gave me an internal or psychic language.
Thanks to books, I've never been bored. Ever.
It's not an exaggeration to say that reading made me into who and where I am today. And, of course, reading made me become a writer and, in so doing, sent me my best friends (fellow book lovers).
Children's Book Week. Really, if I had my way, I would make it a bigger--much bigger--annual event than Christmas or Hanukkah.
Remember your first kiddie read? Who gave you the book? What was it about? Post the memory in the comments below.