I visited my first library when I was four years old. It was soon to be my favorite and not only because of the attached penny candy store.
Much to my mother’s horror, I borrowed Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss so often at one point only my name was on the library check out card. The book that started out as a bet that the author couldn’t write a story with only fifty words taught me the importance of exploration. No, I didn’t decide after one read, or twentieth, to try my mother’s Lima beans, but I did begin to tap into my creativity. To learn that with words and imagination, anything is possible. Like eating green eggs and ham, in a convertible car, riding on top of a moving train, traveling through a dark cave. Or even in vampires, werewolves, and demons.
“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” E. L. Doctorow
I didn’t have to borrow The Little Engine That Could from the library. It was a book I owned, more likely passed down from one of my older siblings. Despite the nightmare-inducing clown character this book taught me to never give up. Husband calls it stubbornness, I call it persistence. It took me fifteen years, hundreds of no responses and rejections, before I received my first contract. If not for the Little Engine, and scary clown, I may have given up.
“I think I can—I think I can—I think I can—I think I can—I think can—I think I can—I think I can—I think I can—I think I can.” Little Blue Engine
It was the book cover and pictures that drew me to Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears, but the story inside molded my writing. Completely filled with tension, each page built on the last and I never once stopped wondering what was going to happen.
By modern standards the children’s section in my neighborhood library was tiny, but from the books I checked out and my own collection at home, the words and pictures quickly grew into my personal path to becoming an author.
What were your favorite children’s books growing up? Is there a book that your child asks you to read over and over again?