Sh*t To Help You Show Up March 25, 2022
Do your stories love you?
My mother loves children’s books— picture books and middle reader books and even, sometimes, young adult novels. She reads them all the time. I remember once asking her with, I will admit, a certain mocking, teasing tone, if she ever read adult books. Very seriously she responded, “I try, but they just insist on inserting all those unnecessary words. I like how children’s books get to the heart of it without all of those extra words.”
Her response made me laugh. Partly at the truth of what she said, and partly at the bald, uncompromising way in which she said it. I get that from my mother, for sure. If you want to know how I really feel about something all you have to do is ask. But make sure you really want to know, because I’ll for sure tell you.
Despite my mother’s love of children’s literature, I don’t remember what part she played in teaching me to read, though I’m sure she played one. I only remember memorizing the entire text of Esphyr Slobodkina’s Caps for Sale for a preschool performance because my teacher thought I could read much better than I could and I didn’t want to disappoint her. That memorization exercise, however (like for Kate DiCamillo, it turns out), opened the door for me and I ran through it as fast as I could. I was reading Nancy Drew by the end of kindergarten and spent much of my childhood with my nose happily in a book. Books filled me with wonder, helped me escape from a reality that was often more complicated than I knew how to handle, and saved my life, or certainly my sanity, at least once.