The Beginning of My Reading Life

“Not for the first time, an argument had broken out over breakfast at number four, Privet Drive.”

First line in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

You would think that someone who has considered themselves an avid book reader since childhood would remember the first book they ever read. Apparently, love of reading does not equal an exact recollection of your life at the age of 8.

I remember reading with my grandmother. My grandparents had a box of fairytale books including classics such as Cinderella and The Beauty and the Beast, and my grandmother would read them to my brother and I to get us to sleep. I think the box contained about 6 of these short books, so as you can imagine, we heard these same stories quite a lot.

As the oldest of my brother and I, I, of course, learned how to read first. It meant that I would sometimes insist on doing the reading instead of my grandmother. You know how children like to proudly brag when they’ve finally learned something. That was me. Yes, I was the annoying child.  

So, the first book I ever read (outside of school, that is) must have been one these fairytales. I don’t have the faintest idea which one, but the point is that it was a fairytale. Talk about a textbook example of how to make a child a reader.

Before I could even read, I had gotten books for two Christmases in a row. The first two books in the Harry Potter series gifted to me by mom. Was I thrilled, jumping-up-and-down-ecstatic, over-the-moon-with-joy about getting these books? No. I put them away and went to play with my new and far more exciting toys.

Jumping forward a couple of years to when I was about 9 or 10, I had learned to read. The Philosopher’s Stone and The Chamber of Secrets still sat on my shelf as the sole two books I owned. Unread. A day of utter boredom was then all it took for me to fall down the reading hole, never to climb back up. I grabbed The Chamber of Secrets and started reading. And yes, you read correctly. I started with the second book, and that because I had already seen the first movie. In my mind that equaled having read the book so I didn’t need to do that (I know better now, don’t worry).

After that, I couldn’t read the rest of the books in the series fast enough. I caught up on them just after the fifth book was published and then the greatest test of my patience began. However, the reward for that patience were memories I’ll always cherish. Going to the bookstore to get the newest book when it was released at midnight along with other fans who were just as eager and excited as I was. Then coming home and reading throughout the night, cursing my body for needing something as trivial as sleep when Harry needed to escape Voldemort or faced the greatest challenge of all: surviving Potions class.

My hardback copy of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

As to so many other people, the Harry Potter series has meant the world to me. I even have a cliché story about how I met my best friend through a Harry Potter-related site. I still reread them from time to time and enjoy them just as much if not more. They help me if I’m feeling down. They make me feel safe and understood, and I will be forever grateful to my mom for introducing them to me and getting me to read.   

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