When I was young, I read Curious George with my mom every day, until the binding and the book full of happy memories and stories fell apart. I remember feeling very sad, despite my parents reassuring me that they could get me another Curious George book, with a shiny new cover. That book still taught me a lot, and I still think about the lessons it taught me today. Curious George taught me to tell my parents the truth instead of sweeping my mistakes under the rug – sometimes, literally – or to think about other people’s needs instead of focusing on what I wanted to do, and the most important lesson: to let go of my kite on windy days instead of forcing my parents to rescue me on a hang glider. While it was a little unrealistic, I still took the kite flying very seriously.
Something many young children encounter at a young age is books. Books allow them to learn from others, even if those people they are learning from are mischievous monkeys and men with yellow hats.
One of my other favorite children’s books that I read during that time was The Market Square Dog by James Herriot. It made me want to become a veterinarian, which was my dream job from second to eighth grade, when I had decided to set my eyes on something new, but nevertheless, it made me care more about animals. I also loved art when I was younger, and I would always try to draw inspiration from the book’s illustrations when I put my paintbrush to paper. Now that I am older, I realize how much the book influenced me. I am now a vegan animal lover who has three rescued animals, and this book is one of the largest early contributors to that.
Other books also made me open my eyes to world issues, such as The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen, which was a book about mistreated circus animals.This story made me think about circus animals and animal rights at an early age, past the idea of safe cute puppies in a pound. I loved the story, at first mostly because of the bright drawings and silly characters, but more and more because of the moral. At the beginning, the ship full of the circus animals sinks, and the animals are left with only scraps of wood to try to stay afloat with, but a zebra carries a monkey on her back for miles, until they reach land. I remember thinking this was ridiculous, a zebra would never do that, but then I thought about if my dog was that zebra, or my mom, and I realized that that kind zebra was just like the rest of us. A crazy realization, I am aware, but it meant a lot to me at the time, and every opportunity I had to let someone deal with their own problems or help, I would always try to help.
Another story that made me face injustice was The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry, which was about the deforestation of the Amazon Rain Forest. I realized that animals were being driven violently from their homes, and I remember feeling upset at the universe for a few days after reading it, until I sat down with my mom again, and read it for the second time, which was when I realized that: no matter how much I didn’t want something to be true, it did not negate anyone’s horrible experience, and my disappointment in the truth was only arrogance. After reading this book, I felt much more mature about life than before reading it. When someone would tell me something I didn’t want to hear, instead of tuning it out, I listened.
Books influenced my early years a lot, and powerful messages from books tend to stick with me for much longer than if they were from other mediums. Books are still a large part of my life, and despite having very little free time to enjoy them, they are still my favorite pastime. The books that I read as a young child shaped who I am today, and books I am reading now will most likely shape who I am in the future.