By Emily Evans-Miller
March is National Reading Month, kicked off by Dr. Seuss’ birthday on the 2nd. In honor of such an important month for book lovers nationwide, we’ve decided to take it back to the titles that started our love for reading. Our staff has talked a lot about what we’re reading—including this list of our favorite titles, so instead we went to our best resource of all: our authors.
When asked, “What book made you fall in love with reading?” our authors had some great titles to share. Check out their thoughts below.
EJ Jackson, Thirteen
I didn’t have one favorite book—it was a collection of books—the illustrated encyclopedias by Funk & Wagnalls. In the basement of my childhood home, we had the entire collection on a shelf; proudly displayed for anyone to see. Burgundy, leather bound books with gold lettering on the spine and glossy pages to make the images jump into your conscience. A thing of beauty! Whenever I needed some “me time,” it was normal for me to go into the basement, put an album on the turntable, and pick up one of the encyclopedias off the shelf and learn something new. I would read the caption under the picture and see if that particular thing suited my fancy and then move on to the full description. These encyclopedias (and the musical backdrop) allowed me to transcend my often chaotic environment and my imagination could soar. Also, it increased my knowledge of people, places, and things as well as my vocabulary. Although music was the catalyst for me beginning to write at a very early age, it was the encyclopedias that gave me the literary basis to do it well and with ease.
Dr. Patrick Lockwood, The Fear Problem
My favorite book growing up was Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. The poignant yet accurate depiction of the nature of sacrifice when you love someone has resonated with me for pretty much the entirety of my life. His book is a powerful reminder of how giving “mother nature” is, and a useful example of how caregivers, such as parents, need to sacrifice a great deal to keep children on a trajectory to successful adulthood.
Dr. Philip McAdoo, Independent Queers
Beloved, Toni Morrison: I return to this book over and over again… She instilled in me Black pride, gay pride, EVERYTHING, and loving who I am…
“Here,” she said, “in this here place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard. Yonder they do not love your flesh. They despise it…No more do they love the skin on your back. Yonder they flay it. And O my people they do not love your hands. Those they only use, tie, bind, chop off and leave empty. Love your hands! Love them! Raise them up and kiss them. Touch others with them, pat them together, stroke them on your face ‘cause they don’t love that either. You got to love it, you! And no, they ain’t in love with your mouth. Yonder, out there, they will see it broken and break it again. What you say out of it they will not heed…What you put into it to nourish your body they will snatch away and give leavins instead. No they don’t love your mouth. You got to love it.”
Those words are so relevant…still today.
Raakhee Mirchandani, Super Satya Saves the Day
In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord. How could you not instantly love this story? I still remember reading it in 5th grade for the first time and just devouring the whole thing, way before the chapters were assigned. (I now give it to all the kids in my life; it’s that special.) It’s just the best story about immigration, baseball, and personal victories, and I frequently re-read it.
Karen Márquez Morales, The Krayon Kids
When I was a little girl, I had much more of a passion for writing than I did for reading. That changed when I became a second grade teacher. I had the incredible opportunity to witness the transition of seeing children “learn to read… and then read to learn.” It was really very magical, for the students and for me. One of our favorite books was Mice and Beans written by Pam Muñoz Ryan. We loved it because it was so well written and captured our imagination. After seeing how excited the students were to read that story, how happy it made them, and how inspired they became, I too developed a deep appreciation and love for reading. I had an even deeper desire to become a writer and touch the lives of so many children, the way that Mice and Beans did for my students. Even though I have never met Pam Muñoz Ryan, I felt that she was with me all of those years helping my students and me find a true love for reading. I am very grateful.
Tara Reeves, Is Your Dad a Pirate?
My parents’ enthusiasm for reading rubbed off on me. Before “God blesses” and goodnight kisses, we’d share a book together. Among my favorites was Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. The illustrations and sentences were neither colorful nor complex; but Mr. Silverstein’s message brightened my outlook on love and sacrifice. I treasure this recent comment from a reader of my latest release: “Is Your Dad a Pirate? is a modern day Giving Tree.”
Vikki Lynn Smith, Summer the Firefly
I have always been an avid reader. When I was in second grade I fell in love with a book that would later become a classic, not only in literature but in movies as well. That book was Charlotte’s Web by EB White. I loved the possibility of talking to animals, animals that in my own life as an Air Force child, I would never meet. It was no surprise later, when I lived near the woods as an adult, that I would begin writing about the animals that surrounded my home. I was intrigued by their beauty and unique qualities. Then later, as a teacher, I read another book illustrated by Michael Glenn Monroe that touched my heart and captured the minds of my students, AWish to Be A Christmas Tree. As an author and illustrator, he captured the beauty that I witnessed everyday walking in the woods. That’s when I knew that I needed to publish my own stories, so that another child somewhere in the world, might be inspired like me to write a book someday.
What book made you fall in love with reading? Tag us with your answer on social media @MascotBooks!