I remember very clearly the book that got me hooked on reading. I would have been about ten or eleven and in the last years of junior school. Back then, in the 1960s, Ladybird books were used to teach children how to read. Every day we were called to stand beside the teacher at her desk at the front of the class. With a pen in one hand and The Ladybird book open on the desk, we took turns to read three or four pages aloud as the teacher pointed to the words with her pen.
A Book About Dancing
One day, the teacher handed me a blue hardback book, suggesting I take it home to read. She told me it was a book about dancing and I remember wondering if I would enjoy reading it, as dancing was not something I was into. Or so I thought.
The book did look very ‘grown up’ though. It was thicker than any book I’d read up to that point and although it was illustrated with a few black and white line drawings, for the most part it was solid text. I secretly felt very pleased that she’d chosen it for me, and allowed me to take it home to read.
Something Very Wonderful Happened
As I began reading, something very wonderful happened. This was a proper story, a book with chapters, twenty-three, in fact, and it was a gripping story, especially to my young mind. It was the story of Anna Pavlova, Prima Ballerina of the Imperial Russian Ballet.
The opening chapter set the scene, with the eight year old Anna being taken to the ballet to see The Sleeping Beauty. That was the moment she decided she wanted to be a ballerina.
I Was Hooked on Reading
The second chapter started with the line, “When Anna Pavlova was born, at St Petersburg in 1882, no one believed she could live.”
And I was hooked. Every spare moment I had, the book would come out and I would read a chapter. I struggled with Anna through her training, felt her pain after gruelling sessions in the dance studio and celebrated with her when she finally achieved her dream.
To a rather shy, quiet child, the world of books had been revealed to me and set me on the road to a lifelong love of reading and writing.
The book was called The Dancing Star and it was written by Gladys Malvern. I bought a copy of it some years ago, because I wanted to own the book that got me into reading (the one I first read had belonged to the school library, so had to be given back). Dancing Star is available on Amazon and can be ordered from Waterstones book store.
Do you remember the book that triggered a love of reading? Please do comment and let me know.