Hi readers! My name is Josephine and I'm an Associate Publicist for Corporate Communications. Growing up I was a bit of a reluctant reader, but because of the books in my list below I've learned to love reading. What I enjoy most is a book's ability to take you far, far away, to pack your bags and make you feel like you're Harry's best friend or sitting in Ms. Frizzle's classroom. Here are the five books – this was hard – that shaped me as a reader.
The Gingerbread Man illustrated by Elena Temporin earns a spot on my bookprint list because it’s actually the first book I ever read. I remember coming home from kindergarten one day bursting through the door with this book in hand, so proud of my achievement that I’d read to anyone around. So for me The Gingerbread Man comes first in my bookprint because without my love and excitement for this book, I never would have learned that books are magical, capable of transporting you to another world and making you never want to leave.
The A Series of Unfortunate Events books made me want to read. Our Kids & Family Reading Report tells us that kids want to read books they select for themselves, and was the perfect example of this. Assigned readings always made me dread picking up a book, and I mean ALWAYS – even throughout college. A professor once called it an “authority problem” – whoops – but she was wrong, I do love reading, but mostly books that I’ve chosen for myself. When I stumbled upon this series in my school’s library I devoured each book, often times putting my homework aside to read just one more chapter, and then another… and another. Granted, Lemony Snicket’s books were slightly on the darker side, our main characters are orphans and they face one tragedy after the next, but they kept me coming back for more. Side note: even as an adult I’m nerding out now that Netflix picked it up as a series.
Where the Red Fern Grows was one of few required reading books for class that I actually enjoyed. I think this is when I realized that any book with a prominent dog/protagonist relationship holds my ticket. SPOILER ALERT: the ending is a little sad but very touching. I believe it was the first time I cried while reading a book and I remember my 5th grade self being taken aback that a book had sucked me in and shook me emotionally. It was Where the Red Fern Grows that has me seeking emotional connections to subjects and characters even now as an adult reader and added to the curiosity instilled in me by A Series of Unfortunate Events to help further develop my reading taste.
High school added some semblance of choice to the mix with summer reading lists wielding a variety of titles and genres to choose from, and that’s where I found Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. I didn’t know what to expect from the brief three line summary, but it piqued my interest in dystopian novels and speculative fiction. The story begins with a terrorist attack that causes the government to suspend the U.S. Constitution in an effort to restore order and instate a theocratic military dictatorship – one that revokes all women’s rights *** insert extreme eye roll here. The novel follows the life of Offred as she explores and adapts (kind of) to women’s new role in society, but no spoilers here. The Handmaid’s Tale helped bring women’s rights issues at home and internationally to my attention and had me questioning traditional gender roles – authority problems; I think not – thanks, Margaret Atwood!
So I’ve already admitted to having difficulty engaging in assigned reading, now imagine how hard college must have been for me. I didn’t do much pleasure reading until I started at Scholastic when our in-house librarian recommended I give Andrew Smith’s Grasshopper Jungle a shot. The book is HILARIOUS. If you’ve ever wondered what goes on in the mind of a 16 year old boy here’s your chance to find out. The book is one of my favorites because the characters are silly, gross, and they make mistakes and explore things – they’re real – and includes a touch a touch of sci-fi and a dash of Kurt Vonnegut. Grasshopper Jungle helped usher me back into the world of reading for fun, and with all the great books we publish, I’m really glad it did.