This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Natalia's first book, Chasing The Sun, was released this month. Here, she has taken the time to tell Novelicious what Roald Dahl book helped her overcome her difficulties with reading, and inspired her love of writing.
I was six when I somehow got my hands on a copy of Roald Dahl’s Matilda. To be perfectly honest, I don’t know where it came from. I don’t remember buying it, or borrowing it from my cousin (a voracious reader) or from my school library.
This book – that I’ve reread so much the cover is peeling, that’s never been far from my desk, that I love so much I’ve thought about naming a future daughter after it – feels like it just fell into my life on the day I needed it most.
Matilda was not just an ordinary little girl and I guess neither was I. I was being homeschooled for a couple of months at the time, recovering from a hip surgery. Most days I’d accompany my mom to her work at a doctor’s office downtown, where I had to find ways to keep myself busy (usually by making banners for the office birthday parties).
I was a shy girl. What’s more, I’d only learned to speak English in the past year or so. Reading, at the time, didn’t come naturally to me. Before my surgery when I’d still been going to school, you’d often find me sitting at the back of the class, doing my reading lessons at a slower pace than the rest of the students. My teacher would send me home with books and cassette tapes to supplement my reading lessons.But there I was in my mom’s office, surrounded by the sounds of phones ringing, Xerox machines humming, fax paper stuttering into view. I opened my book and met Matilda, “The Reader of Books,” as the first chapter describes her. This little girl borrowed so many books from the library that she quickly made her way through the children’s section and had to ask the librarian to recommend more. She started with Great Expectations, then read several classics by Steinbeck, Hemingway, Faulkner and Orwell. And she was only four!
Matilda devoured books. She loved them because they transported her to new worlds. And the more I read, the more I understood the power of the written word. If Matilda could be a reader of books, then so could I.
So I kept reading. On page 77, towards the end of Matilda’s first day of school, something pretty amazing happened. Matilda’s new teacher handed her a book of limericks. Matilda read one from the book, then another she wrote about her teacher.
I thought they were cute, and writing limericks seemed like a fun way to pass the time. Conveniently enough, my mom had a typewriter in her office, so I tried my hand at a few: one that rhymed with Coke, another with Bike. By the time I’d finished the pages of Matilda I’d discovered a love of writing and had overcome my difficulties with reading. This book about a smart, bookish girl who discovers she can move things with her mind convinced me that reading could be a superpower.