I don’t remember who taught me to read but I could from quite a young age, perhaps it was my mother although I have very scarce memories of her living with us so I can’t be sure. I was six years old when I received my first Roald Dahl book as a gift, it was The BFG and from the first page I was hooked, I still have that dog eared copy to this day and it’s one of the items I would definitely save from a fire.
I wasn’t a happy little girl, home life was turbulent and I never felt like I quite fit in at school so books became my escape. I would lose myself in the chapters where trees were made of sweeties and there were rivers of chocolate , where a little girl would befriend a giant and where a boy who was bored made the most fantastic concoction from the bathroom cabinet and for those few hours spent engrossed between those pages I was truly happy.
Of course I devoured other books, whether it was sitting crossed legged listening to the teacher animatedly telling us Aesop’s fables or Saturday afternoons spent in musty charity shops with my Nan marvelling over the amazing yellow paged ancient novels that lined the shelves. I simply loved books and they made me feel like I could be anything or anyone I wanted to be. Books were pure magic, they made me feel less alone in a world that often seemed daunting.
I still remember the day that I borrowed Matilda from the library I was 10 years old and pretty miserable. Have you ever read a book at exactly the right time in your life with the exact messages you needed to hear? I felt like that about this marvellous book and what those pages taught me I’ve carried through my life and tried to pass on to my own children.
Roald Dahl books were fun and magical but also quite dark in parts and I think that’s why I loved them so much as a child, they made me feel normal.
My copies are safely stashed away until Daisy and Jake are old enough to enjoy them and when they are not only will I tell them the stories I will also tell them about the author behind them and why the words he wrote made the world of difference to their Mummy.
Today, September 13th is Roald Dahl day and I will be raising my imaginary glass of frobscottle in honour of the author who made this little girls life a little less lonely.