Although all the people in my family were avid readers, my first reading alone experience wasn’t so good. Some prince in a dramatic Romanian folk story had gone in the land beyond everything and when he returned, everybody in his family was dead. So, here comes one of the biggest trauma of my childhood. This is the reason why, until high school, I limited my readings to the mandatory lists I receive from my teachers.
Then, Jules Verne, Dumas, Heidi or The three musketeers came and little by little the trauma disappeared. No one was dying anymore, no one was left all alone in the world, without his loved ones. When I discovered the books from my parents and my grandparents library, I would “borrow” a book from my grandmother and when I would take it back we would stay with a cup of tea in front of us and discussed it.
At my mother parents house I discovered a first edition, from 1942, of the book that would become my favourite book of all time. It was called “A murit Luchi” , translated “Luchi is gone” and was written by a Romanian author named Otilia Cazimir. It is autobiographical and the main character, a preschool girl called Luchi has a lot of adventures until one day, the day that she has to go to school. Her teacher calls her by her birth given name, Otilia, and at first she doesn’t respond. Then, like in a dream, she realises that she is no longer Luchi, the little girl. She had become somehow this Otilia, the schoolgirl.
I used to read that book all the time, alone or with my mother, I knew it by heart. Is was a book with no pictures and only in 2011 was released a new illustrated edition. I bough it, of course, and I was shocked by the illustrations: the Luchi from my imagination couldn’t possible look like that!
In high school, under the influence of my coleagues, I started reading filosophy. I remember reading Kafka with the dictionary right beside me. Soon I discover that filosophy wasn’t for me. As they weren’t for me the motivational books. I mean I would always have an existential revelation when reading such a book, but I would soon forget the content, before getting to that “better me” version.
Then, for a long period, I bought a lot of books online, in kindle version, all the “trending” novels: Twilight, Game of Thrones or His dark materials ( the translation of wich, in Romanian -my mother tongue language, left me very dissapointed).
When I became a mother, in my late 30’s, Alfie Kohn, Anne Bacus or Sir Ken Robinson were my allies in fighting my DNA, the habits from my own home or the stuff I learned in my comunist childhood.
Soon started the era of picture books for me and my daughter. I read all the reviews and international tops and I bought my daughter all the best picture books I would find. She is 5 now and already has a library bigger than ours (maybe because of lack of space or priorities). We read whith her, for her, for us. She sees us reading and when we begin a new book she studies the cover or tries reading the title. Sometimes she would ask us what the book is about or if we could read a few pages to her.
I like reading any good original story. Because everyone has a story to tell, even if is not his own.
And because sometimes the stories are today version of reality that we can make possible tomorrow, all by ourselves.
Reading is something we owe ourselves, because one idea gives life to another idea, words come from other words, our evolution is based on the things we learn from others. More talented, more experienced, more original, with different views on the world around us. Because life isn’t about one tree, it is about the forest. And the stronger the tree is, the stronger the forest is in the face of the storm. And the forest around my daughter is a fragile one, a new one, that goes where the strong winds takes it. And we have to change something in us first to make the forest strong again.