The other day I came across this tag – I don’t even remember where exactly as I was on my phone. It said: “Who introduced you to the wonderful world of books?”
I didn’t even have to think about this, because two names immediately popped into my head.
The first is my mum. Ironically, she is the one now saying “It’s just a book” when she doesn’t understand how I can possibly feel for fictional characters or talk about them as if they’re real. But when I was a kid, she’d read me at least one story every night. I wouldn’t go to bed unless I’ve had a story. What started with PIXI books and fairy tales soon evolved to include books by Ottfried Preußler and Astrid Lindgren.
But the person who really encouraged my reading was my primary school teacher, Mrs. Crewett at Gemeinschaftsgrundschule Yorckstrasse in Solingen. I remember a class trip in Year 1, when I was 6. We walked across town to the library and got a private tour of the Children’s and Youth Library (which at that time was housed on the first floor). At the end of the trip the head librarian gathered us around and handed each one of us our first library card.
For Christmas every year, Mrs. Crewett would get a book for every pupil. But she didn’t just buy 25 copies of the same book – no, she really got to know us and selected a different book for every kid based on what she knew we liked and what our hobbies were and whether we’d shown interest in these sort of stories. Going even further, she wrote a personalised message in every book before having Santa hand them out in class. I know I must have got 4 books, but I can only find two now. They’re both treasured and proudly displayed on my shelf. One is Kalle Wirsch by Tilde Michels, the other is The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
In Year 3 my school opened a new library and reading room, and I’m pretty sure I remember author Annette Langen there to open it and hold the very first reading. We definitely read her Felix books in class, and we started – as a class – to write her letters and update her on our reading. She was our unofficial class godmother.
That library card I got in Year 1 was my ticket to such places like Narnia, Baker Street, and eventually Hogwarts. So yes, my primary school teacher really introduced me to books and I am forever grateful that she did. I am a bibliophile because of her.
Who introduced you to the world of books?