Today really is the best kind of day for the team at Reading Passport HQ. A day when all the bookish people of the world celebrate those glorious things called books. As people young and old celebrate the books that make them laugh and cry, here at Reading Passport, our Projects Coordinator joins in with the literary festivities by sharing a love letter to her favourite book.
I am writing to you exactly twenty years after I first discovered you and I want to start by saying that I still love you, always have and always will. No matter how many great works of literature I have read and no matter how many wonderful authors I have discovered and will go on to discover, there will always be a special place in my heart for you. You see, I was much like your young heroine, Matilda when I grew up. My mum likes to tell me a story about when I was little, she says I could read before I could talk. She’s referring to a huge Reader’s Digest Animal Filofax we had and of course at the grand old age of three, I was no more reading than memorising the animals in the order that we talked about them. This story however, has stuck with me and it’s one I like to pull out in the bookish circles I move in now.
I have always read, books are my comfort and my joy but it was not until I turned seven and was introduced to the gloriumptious world of your wonderful creator Mr Dahl, that I found anyone who even vaguely resembled me. I was the little girl who would be more likely to be found curled into a chair with a good book than to be tearing around the garden or getting up to mischief. I liked adventure as much as the next person, but the adventures I preferred were those I could embark on in my mind. So, when you came into my life and I realised that perhaps there were more children out there like me than I had thought, you made me smile, you made me the heroine of my own life. My adventures were celebrated and my super power – the ability to read – was what made Matilda strong. I don’t think I had ever felt strong before I read you. I want to thank you for that.
You took me on adventures that meant more to me than the many adventures Matilda herself read about, you helped me to discover my love of words, you are part of the reason that I went on to study English and Publishing at University, you’re the reason I’m writing this letter today. You showed me that it was heroic to be me, to be quiet and bookish and to love telling stories and for that I will always be grateful. You changed my life because you made it the best thing in the world to be myself and to never apologise for that and you have truly shaped the person that I am.
I can still recall one of my first year university lectures wherein we had to play an icebreaker explaining our favourite books. Whilst many of my colleagues chose books by D H Lawrence or James Joyce (and rightly so if they were their favourites), I chose you – because if I’m being honest, though I have read thousands of excellent books in my life, there has only been one which I will call my life long favourite and I believe that that first book-love stays with us always.
I know that many children are still reading you now and discovering that timid but amazing little girl your pages contain. Good. I hope that you go on to inspire many other little girls the way you inspired me because I’m being who I am and doing what I love – working with words – because of you and I’ll never forget that.
Happy World Day Matilda, you and Mr Dahl deserve to be celebrated.