I learned to read before I started Kindergarten. My fondest memories of my mother were made in the late hours of the night, cuddling up in bed, her soothing voice and the smell of a dusty book lulling me to sleep. I remember the books she chose always had a moral to the story, and she would make sure I knew what it was. Not surprisingly, a lot of them were about listening to your mother. I vividly remember the time she read “Little Red Riding Hood,” the wolf gave me nightmares for weeks. I grew up in a very small coastal town in Cuba; since Cuba is a communist country, the general public has very limited options when it comes to reading material. In my small-town Elementary School, the book options were even scarcer. By the time I finished fifth grade I was best friends with the school librarian, and I had read every book inside the library. The poor lady had to resort to bringing me her own books from home in order to keep my reading thirst satiated. These are the people that influenced my love for reading when I was a child.
Right before I turned eleven, my mother, my sister and I came here to the United States to join my dad, who had been here for seven years. It was here in a tiny cockroach ridden apartment, which we shared with another family, that I first got my hands on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone -by J.K Rowling, the Spanish version since I could not read English yet. I cannot begin to describe how I yearned to receive a letter from Hogwarts on my eleventh birthday, but unfortunately my birthday came and went, and no such letter arrived. I then resolved to beg my father to take me to the Library, and I got my very own Library card instead. To me it was my passport into worlds unknown, and it offered the escape I so desperately needed.
By the time I was thirteen I could read and write English at an acceptable level, and I no longer needed ESOL classes (classes in which the teacher spoke Spanish). I breezed through Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in English, and then the rest of the series as it was released throughout the years. These books shaped me into the reader I am today. In books I have found comfort and solace from anything I might be going through in my life, and I am one of those people who believes the meaning of life can be found within the pages of a good book.