My journey through the world of writing and everything that lies in between…

I believe one of the reasons I’m so fond of writing is because I was captured by the written word at an early age. I simply cannot remember a time when I didn’t have a book in front of me.

It started very early:

Reading at a young age

And of course, it was my duty as a big sister to teach my little sister how to read:

My earliest memories go back to around 3 or so, and I can remember sitting on the living room floor, reading one of those big Disney books based off the movies (Sleeping Beauty was my favorite) and having my parents point the words out to me as they read the story out loud.

One of my dad’s favorite stories to tell (though I’m not sure how much truth there is to it, haha) is that at age four or five, I’m studying a cereal box and then ask what the word “carbohydrate” means. Of course I don’t really remember this particular story, but I did read the sides of cereal boxes all the time when I was little, so I suppose it’s not out of the question.

Anyway, I remember I started telling stories before I could write; I’d have my mom transcribe them for me. I have a whole huge folder of these stories, now faded by the years. Still it’s interesting to see what kind of story my four-year-old self came up with.

I used to love to watch Reading Rainbow too (anyone remember that show?). I’d always try to rush to the library shortly after to get the books they recommended.

I had a lot of favorite childhood books, I was especially fond of The Giving Tree and Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein; Love You Forever by Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw; and of course the funny Wayside School Stories (Sideways Stories from Wayside School; Wayside School is Falling Down; Wayside School Gets A Little Stranger). And then as I got older I loved the American Girl books; those books were, in fact, what got me started in writing historical fiction (as my first “novel” was written at age 11, all handwritten :P) All of these books (and MANY more) helped shaped me into the writer I am now.

And of course I can’t forget the influence of family. My dad has always been one to weave stories around seemingly insignificant events, but somehow captures everyone’s attention. He doesn’t write any of them down (as they’re all based off his life) but he’s got a way of talking and grabbing your attention. His life has really been one amazing story and perhaps one day I’ll collaborate with my sister and we’ll write it all out.

Then of course my mom was the one who spent most of the time reading to me and helping me along too. I suppose I get the artistic gene from her since she was always good at drawing and art.

And my little sister (no longer “little” anymore). She and I would always come up with stories revolving around our dollhouse people, complete with names and character quirks. We did the same with our stuffed animals; we had complete histories for their little world and everything. And now, I’m happy to say, she’s becoming a writer too 🙂 She’s writes more along the lines of fantasy and sci-fi but that trait has worn off on her too 🙂

So I’m posing the question to those who read my blog: do you remember what age you started to read? What were some of your favorite books as a child? Were there any children’s books that inspired you?

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Comments on: "Captured by Written Word: Why I Love Storytelling" (7)

  1. This is a great post and an interesting question. I taught adult literacy classes for years and often had conversations with other teachers trying to map out our different paths to literacy: how did you learn to read, when did you learn to read …

    I was reading before I got to kindergarten, but I can never pin it down exactly. I just know that I was a pretty comfortable reader by the time I got to that first classroom. I was the only child in the class who could read, and reading pretty much got me through the year — neither my teacher nor my classmates wanted to have anything to do with me (save for one brave child who defied her parents and befriended me), so I spent my time reading. My teacher happily gave me permission to sit on the sidelines and read a book whenever I wanted to, and I was equally happy to take advantage of that permission!

    Thanks for stopping over and checking out my page. Good luck with your NaNo challenge this year.

  2. my earliest memory, (5-6 years old) is sharing a bed with my little sister, and we’d have a stack on the floor. I’d read one, pass it to her, until the stack was on her side. then back again the next night…

    Little House books, Ping (about a naughty duckling), Frances the Badger, Strawberry Girl, The Monster at the End of This Book… so many good ones!

    my kids loved Reading Rainbow, and my eldest is a book FIEND! it’s so great to see that get passed along.

  3. I’m like you – I started to read very early. The story is the ticket and we all have one. I think folks who read a lot tend to recall their stroy in more vivid detail.

    I am an old Doc and a physician bluegrass fiction writer. Come visit. I’m trying to write my story before I forget it.

    drtombibey.wordpress.com

  4. Great pictures! I remember reading Dr. Seuss to myself sometime in Kindergarten, and I remember mom jumping off my bed and screaming for my dad, apparently very surprised!

    Now, revisiting the books I loved – Where the Sidewalk Ends, Amelia Bedelia, Frog & Toad – with my own 3 year old, I completely agree with you. Words have held me captive all my life.

    And my daughter, at 3, spends an hour or more in her room each night, turning the pages of her books and tossing them to a pile on the floor. She’s already hooked!

  5. I completely understand your comment about making up stories for your dolls house people. My sister and I used to play with lego. We had a board that slid under the bed and we made towns in there. My sister wanted to build new houses and design buildings. I wanted to play out the lives of the people living in them. The buildings were just the background; I wanted to tell the stories about the people in our lego town.

    I think one of my favourite kid’s books was The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark. There’s a family joke we still make, nearly two decades later, that came from that book. “Vole’s not very big, is it? It feels all alone in the bottom of my stomach.” “There is no bottom to your stomach.”

    When I was a bit older, I loved books like The Little Princess. There was one point where I started to cry my eyes out and my mum decided she wouldn’t read me any more because I was clearly upset (she still did bed time stories at that point). So I had to read the next chapters myself.

    I learned to read quite young and I was small for my age, so I looked even younger. According to my parents, I used to sit in public places reading aloud so that people would think I was amazingly clever. I think I must have been a smug little brat when I was little.

  6. Ed Barber said:

    Congratulations on your great early reading experiences. I can’t remember when I began reading, but I certainly remember it was early. Our loving family was poor and I played alone quite a bit. My toys were “men” made from little sticks who had all sorts of adventures which evolved into many stories. We could afford ti own only a couple of books at home except the Bible, and they were quite old: The Shepherd of the Hills, Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, and Brownies. I read them so often that I remember their titles sixty years later. But my mother took me to the public library so often that I “owned” many of the books there. One of the first books I read as an early preteen. was from the “Swallows and Amazons” series by Arthur Ransome. I think that was why this Southern US, barefoot boy became a life long anglophile. Reading soon became a passion. Beginning in grade school I checked out a book each day to return the next to trade for another. The librarian finally required me to get a note from each of my teachers telling her I wasn’t neglecting my homework. Now I am semi-retired as a adult life-long newspaper journalist and publisher, but still love to read. I fully embrace all of the electronic means of communication, including the Internet, but to me…ah, the combination of black jots and tittles across the printed page is still what is magic.

  7. My mother inspired me to read. When I was young, she would read to us in the evening. Since as Mennonites we had no television, reading was our form of entertainment. She read the Children’s Bible stories as well as the books in the Laura Ingalls Wilder series. She would check books out from the church library and read to us. I went on to obtain a degree in English.

    I continued the tradition with my daughter. When she was four, I read her the Hobbit by Tolkien. When she was nine, we read the Xanth series by Piers Anthony together. My daughter developed a deep love of fantasy and went on to obtain her Master’s in English. She prefers to read literature prior to the 20th century. She loves Shakespeare and can read him without a translator. I prefer literature of the 20th century and don’t like to read Shakespeare. We attribute her interest in Shakespeare to my reading Tolkien to her at a very young age since Tolkien was a Medivalist.

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