I recently received an email inviting me to respond to the following prompt. I didn’t even have to think hard about the answer. My fingers immediately began dancing across the keyboard and the following essay is the result.
Who first introduced you the love of books and reading? What about them resonated so deeply with you that you came to love books and reading too?
I learned to love books and reading from my father. Daddy grew up in a household so poor they never had newspapers, magazines or books in the house. Oddly enough, however, he broke the mold of most kids in that situation and learned to escape into the worlds of books borrowed from the library. He wrote stories and poems that no one ever saw. I found them after he had died and sat for days reading the genius of this modest man who could never find it in himself to seek publishing, but should have. In high school the guidance counselor recognized his potential and helped get him a scholarship to U of F. He chose to go into teaching.
When I came along his last year of college I quickly became Daddy’s girl. We rode to the A&W stand on his red motorscooter in the evening for rootbeer floats and went boating and fishing down the Oklawaha River and Rainbow Springs River. All the time Daddy would talk about stories he’d read and characters he’d read about. By the time I was in Middle School I was devouring anything written by Ray Bradbury, JRR Tolkien, HG Wells, George Orwell, Edgar Allan Poe, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and more. We would discuss the characters and plots and find the symbolism together. He was the best teacher anyone could have asked for.
By the time I could write I scribbled poems and stories and songs. Throughout my entire life I have written. I still have most of it and sit giggling at the insanity of it some days. Today I am a struggling writer of YA/MG literature. Each time I finish something I feel proud of I wish I could show it to my Daddy and let him know what a wonderful influence he was on my literary development. Finally getting published and becoming an author of books enjoyed by others will be the cherry on my rootbeer float and I know Daddy will be smiling.