I thought it would be interesting to share how I got into writing children’s stories, which is really more about how I became a reader. I've always enjoyed writing, but I never liked reading so much. My mom read to me when I was young and I loved reading with her. My favorite books were Flicts (by Ziraldo), a story about a color who has no friends and ends up finding an unexpected place to call home, and Chapeuzinho Amarelo (by Chico Buarque), a story about a girl who is afraid of everything, even to leave her home.
However, as I got older, I lost interest in books. The ones assigned by the teachers were boring, not my type of books. And the teachers didn't give us alternative titles. I understand that if you are learning about a certain writer, you need to read his/her books, but that doesn't necessarily help with developing a love for reading. At least, it didn't help me. During my teen years and even in college, I just read what I was required to.
Then came my first baby (who is 10 now). When she was one year old and we were living in Bloomington, IN, I started going to the early literacy programs at the Monroe County Public Library (MCPL). Maria and I loved it! We had just enough money to survive, so the library became crucial to our lives. It was a place with an immense variety of books and toys that we could borrow for free, and there were also the toddler programs.
I don't remember visiting a lot of libraries when I was young, except for my school's library and the ones in college. So, the MCPL was a completely different concept for me; it was a library that did much more than just offering books. It was light, and colorful, and fun; it was a wonderful place! It encouraged me to start reading for my daughter and it introduced me to stories and authors I had never heard of, such as Eric Carle and all his wonderful books, The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams Bianco, Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown, and so many others. I enjoyed so much the children’s books, that I am not sure if I were borrowing them for Maria or for myself. As my daughter started to grow, the books I borrowed became more elaborate. And as she grew even older, we also started writing stories together.
It was only in 2006 that I bought the book that would transform me into a reader. You may laugh, because it's so cliché, but it's also true – it was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling, that did it. I believe I read the first three books of the series before I adventured myself into other ones. Since then, I have read a lot of books, most of them young adult novels, which I hope means I am "young at heart," though there were many adult ones too. Here are some of them:
The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling
The Spiderwick Chronicles, by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
The City of Ember series, by Jeanne DuPrau
The Hunger Games series, by Suzanne Collins
The Shining, by Stephen King
The DaVinci Code, by Dan Brown
Angela’s Ashes, by Frank McCourt
Writing, something that I always enjoyed, came back naturally as I became a reader. Now, it is time to see if the stories I write will be read only by my kids, or also by others as well.