Mandie and the Secret Tunnel is the first “real” book I remember reading. Of course I read picture books a la Eric Carle and Dr. Suess. I am enjoying reading them again with my children. But Mandie was different. There were chapters and there was suspense.
For the life of me, I cannot remember the plot of this book and I’m nearly positive I never read any of the others in the series. But the experience stays with me — staying up late to read, waiting for the next break in class to find out what happens next. It was the first time I remember being truly engaged in a story, taken over by someone’s words and brought into another world.
To me, that is the truest joy of reading — the excitement.
As an adult my interests have drawn me in many directions. But no matter what I read, be it Medieval history, a whodunnit or calligraphy instructions, it is the excitement of Mandie I am looking for. A book that makes me ask “what happens next?” and “what more is there to learn?” A book that keeps me reading.
There are a few other early books I remember feeling this way about, Molly’s Surprise by Valerie Tripp and Number the Stars by Lois Lowery come to mind. For different reasons these books introduced me to different lives and different times. I remember every word of these books. When I was older and learning the full history of World War II, it was Molly’s father I pictured as the returning soldier and Ellen Rosen was with every group of Jews seeking safe passage to Sweden.
As simple as these stories may be, they have had a powerful impact on me. Because of them I am a better reader. What is the first book you remember reading? What book had an early influence on you?