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We all have our favorite novels; stories that shaped who we are or influenced our lives. On my part, I never considered myself to be a bookworm. I didn’t really cultivate that discipline of reading before going to bed, visiting a library, or enjoying words and stories on a regular basis. Somehow, art was always within me in some way or another. I enjoyed the colors, painting, drawings, calligraphy, and listening to stories from people’s experiences, but never had books as a source of entertainment. My aunt, who loved to read, introduced my mom to some books to read for me. I remember my aunt reading some books in English to me, and watching her as she bought books. I also remember a bookshelf full of colorful books in my grandmother’s house. I remember she always had a book inside her purse. It wasn’t until my teenage years that I started reading. Yet, I wasn’t raised in a home where reading was a hobby. Somehow, I remember enjoying some books when I visited my aunt; so much so that now, I’m consistently reading them to my child. 

These books were from my 90s childhood and my earliest sweet memories, stories that instilled in me how powerful one’s own imagination could be, and the mind’s potential to develop endless creativity. 

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

One of those lovely memories was The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. This story teaches children nutrition, counting, and where butterflies come from. The illustration is also very eye-catching, Eric Carle’s art has a very specific, distinctive style and is instantly recognizable. His artwork is created in collage technique, using hand-painted papers, which he cuts and layers to create bright and cheerful images, beautiful colors that children enjoy while reading. This classic book has established a reputable legacy as one of most preschoolers’ favorites and I found it so heart-touching now that I’m reading it to my son, and he enjoys it every single time. He loves the bright colors, and he’s amazed by the cycle and changes of the butterfly.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Another book I read to my child before going to bed is Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. The story is about a young boy, Max, who gets in trouble by scaring a dog and goes to bed without having supper. Max’s room transforms into a jungle filled with mysterious creatures. This book was very controversial when it was first published since critics cataloged it as too dark and inappropriate for a children’s book. The art and “monsters” catch a child’s interest while learning through the story that anger can be safely expressed and eventually conquered. Like Richard Gottlieb once wrote about Sendak: “Where the Wild Things Are communicates the power of art, imagination, and the potential to daydream that allow children to turn traumatic moments into vehicles for survival and growth.”

Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry…who hasn’t read this book? I remember reading and imagining the adventures of the military aviator, and didn’t want to grow up after that. I’ve read this to my child, explaining to him the concepts of love, understating, and the true values of life. Despite being a children’s book, The Little Prince symbolizes adults’ life and sends a message to grown-ups to look beneath the surface, to find true beauty even in the most commonplace or mundane of things. Unfortunately, this is something that adults endure difficulties with, while attempting to do so. The drawings, the plot, and everything about this book is magically beautiful; not just for kids, but also for adults to enjoy. 

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss

In addition to my childhood books, Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss cannot be left out, it is a classic and a must-have. This book is about the journey of life, and its many challenges and joys. It’s also a title associated with graduation. Once again, I received this copy as a gift when I was pregnant and I not only read it to my unborn child but also when he became a toddler. Surprisingly, this book gives me positive vibes and good energy while reading it as an adult. It celebrates young adults’ dreams of escaping from home in the warm embrace of a children’s book. Do we all? This book is full of inspirational words, ambition, kindness, and life’s difficult choices. It’s a perfect gift for young adults such as for new parents or parents to be. I can assure you, I still enjoy reading it.

Harry Potter by J.K Rowling

Finally, a book that forever changed my childhood and helped me expand my imagination so much that it will always have a special place in my heart is Harry Potter by J.K Rowling. It was my thirteenth birthday. I remember I was in 8th grade when my aunt gifted me the first Harry Potter installment. “You don’t know who Harry Potter is?” she asked me, as I responded “No.” “Everyone knows who’s Harry Potter! At least in New Jersey, give it some time in Puerto Rico. In the meantime, read it,” she said, surprisingly, as Harry Potter wasn’t a “thing” in Puerto Rico, yet. I remember reading the first page of the hardcover edition. Oh! My imagination went above and beyond. I took the book to school and read it in the hallways. My classmates didn’t know what I was reading. I felt like I was in another world; one I never wanted to leave. This book teaches about the morals of developing friendship, facing fears, understanding the power of love, and all in a wizarding world full of magical experiences that will blow your mind. How is there’s so much creativity in J.K Rowling’s mind? There’s nothing to underestimate her. She is a genius.

Although I mentioned previously toddler books that somehow are marked within me, Harry Potter is a young adult novel that changed my childhood. I ended up reading all seven series and hope that my child will like to read it someday too. This book led me to keep up my interest in literature and to develop an affinity for the arts and storytelling as a whole. It wasn’t until I saw the movie that I thought reading the book was way better than simply watching the film. Literature will always be better, always. 

Literature will always find a way to get into our hearts, no matter how simple the book might be. Sometimes it’s passed from generation to generation with the same love, especially those stories from our childhood. There are many more successful 90’s books that are still bestsellers to today’s date; however, these are the ones that have a special place in my heart.

Kirsy Rivera is a graduate student at the University of Puerto Rico (Rio Piedras Campus) majoring in English Literature. Her hobbies are photography, baking, and writing. Also enjoys spending quality time with her son. She strives to fulfill her career in writing and publishing.
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