Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Authors Share the Books that Hooked Them on Reading

By Kevin Howell -- Publishers Weekly

A number of authors and celebrities are participating in “What Book Got You Hooked?”— a national awareness campaign from First Book, the children’s literacy organization that provides new books to children from low-income families. The 15-year-old organization has just given its 50 millionth book to children in need.

The top five titles that created readers were:
(1) Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene
(2) Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
(3) Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
(4) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
(5) The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss.

The organization lists the top 50 books on its Web site.

The authors singing the praises of specific books that sparked their love of books include:

Joyce Carol Oates on Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. She writes: “My grandmother gave me the Alice books in a single volume when I was nine years old. I think that I virtually memorized every page, and certainly every brilliant nonsense poem, and was inspired to attempt to write my own ‘Alice’ books as a result.”

Kate DiCamillo writes: “I remember reading Gone with the Wind when I was maybe nine years old. A lot of the story was over my head, but I was captivated in a way that I never been captivated before. The real world receded. I lived only for the book; and when it was over, when I finished, I emerged dazed and blinking, well and truly addicted to stories and to books.”

Michael Chabon fondly recalls Ray Bradbury's The Rocket Man: “I read it for the first time when I was 10 and the pleasure I took in reading was altered irrevocably. Before then I had never noticed, somehow, that stories were made not of ideas or exciting twists of plot, but of language.

There are also recollections from Eric Carle, John Lithgow, Edward Norton, Rebecca Romijn, Judy Woodruff, Rick Reilly, David Duchovny, John Krasinski and others on First Book’s Web site.

“Many of us remember the one book that we wanted to read over and over again—the book that really stirred our imaginations and left us wanting just one more chapter before bedtime,” said First Book president, Kyle Zimmer. “The fact that there are millions of children in our own country that will grow up without these kinds of memories because they have no access to books is devastating. We are delighted that so many people shared their stories in order to help us shine the spotlight on this critical issue.”

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