I’ve never had much of an imagination. Even as a kid pretending was hard. I wasn’t a kid who pretended to be an animal or a princess; it wasn’t fun and I didn’t get the draw. My toys reflected this. I played with blocks and I loved to color. I had baby dolls and I was their mommy, but all they did was sleep because in my unimaginative mind, that was all they could do. The truth is though that kids need to be imaginative and though it didn’t come naturally, I eventually found my way to worlds beyond reality. I found it through books.
As I’ve mentioned here, the first book I remember reading was Jurassic Park. I’m sure there were others that led up to that one, but it was the catalyst. Over the years, I’ve probably read thousands of books. I would read at any opportunity. Seriously, I would take a book into the grocery store so I could read while I was waiting in line. One year I kept an excel spreadsheet and I finished book number 380 on December 30th. I read every genre and truly loved them all, but it wasn’t until I read a little series by C.S. Lewis that I truly learned to read.
It was my first year in college and I was working in the children’s library. I was shelving books and came across this:
It seemed magical and wonderful and I wanted to be a part of whatever it was. So I dove in. For the first time, I wasn’t just reading a book, I was transported into a new world. I saw the creation of Narnia, went through the wardrobe and had tea with Tumnus, rode through the desert on a talking horse, defended Aslan’s How, sailed to the Lone Islands, went through the marshes with a marshwiggle, and went “further up and further in” with all of the friends of Narnia. I couldn’t get enough. I finally understood what it was like to daydream and imagine; to be outside of the possible – outside of reality.
Still today, my favorite books to read are middle-grade (ages 8-12) children’s fantasy. No other genre has the ability to pull me out of reality into a place where my imagination can run wild. Now, you may scoff at my literary choices, but it’s not my fault that “adult” fiction authors don’t seem to capture the magic the way that children’s authors do. It seems that the older we get, the less we think we need magic, but that’s not true; it’s when we’re older that we need magic so much more. We need magic more because as adults because we see all the ugliness in the world that we can’t do anything about. We need the worlds full of heros and heroins. Worlds where a 12 year-old girl, her 7 year-old sister, and a 4,000 year-old teenaged fairy named Puck can slay a giant and free the big bad wolf from his curse. We need places where lions talk and mistreated orphans find their power. We will always need a place where magic exists and that place is within the pages of books written for small people who haven’t yet forgotten that stars are for wishing and that dreams do come true.
If you want some magic back in your life, here is what I’ve been reading over Christmas break: