We all have to start somewhere. For me, my love of literature was first ignited following my encounter with Roald Dahl’s ‘Matilda’. Much like Matilda herself, I was left wholly inspired to pursue more and more novels, one after the other. Admittedly, my four or five year old self didn’t quite begin to tackle novels by Dickens, Hardy or Austen, as Matilda supposedly did from such an age. Nonetheless, that is where my literary journey began.

Whilst I envisage this post to entail a personal and nostalgic walk through my childhood, I do hope that you too are transported back to the beginning of your voyage into the world of literature. Upon recently clearing space on my crowded shelves, filled with children’s novels still, I could not help but picture my younger self, whether I was curled up in bed or hiding away behind the bookshelf at school, peacefully reading in the corner. Whilst my intent was to make room for Austen, Brontë and Dickens (sorry Matilda, I didn’t read them at four, rather I wished to face them at seventeen), I evidently didn’t have the heart to rid myself of the memories woven into the seams of my beloved Roald Dahl collection. From ‘The BFG’ to ‘James and the Giant Peach’, the memories of Roald Dahl’s impressive works came flooding back to me and I most humorously yearned to be an infant once again. Although I cannot argue that I love the literary challenge exuded from the classics, or the deep-seated societal standards they portray, I do rather miss the simplicity of a magical adventure or a ludicrous storyline of witches, who seek to kill children (it sounds a bit horrific when I put it like that). Who wouldn’t wish to restore the magic of discovering books for the first time?

Not only was Roald Dahl the first children’s author I read, but he was most certainly my favourite. With such a vivid imagination, Dahl was able to write the most bizarre stories, thus shaping my creative mind today. If it weren’t for Roald Dahl, I may not even be such an avid reader nowadays. What if I’d picked up a book I had absolutely no interest in, which had the potential to dissuade me from picking up a novel ever again? Evidently, children’s books have a great impact on the people we are today. I had hoped to avoid cliches, but in reading Dahl’s novels, I was able to learn that almost anything is possible and that I should always aim for my goals and dreams (cringeworthy, I know). Perhaps Roald Dahl even planted the seed of my self-determination and motivation, or even inspired the qualities that make me who I am today, from patient and grounded to ambitious and determined (and ever so humble, clearly). Whether you unknowingly take a wider message from a children’s book, such as respect for others and dreaming big, or simply appreciating the wild and outrageous plot, which in turn fuels your own imaginative faculty, reading from a young age is so important. However, that does not mean to say that it is to be frowned upon if you don’t love reading or don’t find your passion for literature until you’re much older. Reading of any style can be appreciated from any age.
Matilda taught me that when people look down on you or tell you that you don’t have the capacity to achieve what you set your mind to, you can always prove them wrong. No matter what negative comments may be fired in your direction, you can succeed in any challenging task ahead. People are quick to tell you what you can’t do, but easily overlook the things you can, so it’s up to you to open their eyes and dispute their claims. Also adults aren’t always right…The BFG taught me that you can make the most unlikely of friends; who are we to judge others for their differences. To fall into the damning pit of cliches, don’t judge a book by its cover. Appearances are not a true reflection of a person’s character, you should make an effort to get to know someone and you should always stand up to bullies. Charlie Bucket taught me that good manners and patience are the key to life. You don’t get very far by acting spoilt and greedy. (Is it fair to say that people always get their comeuppance too). Anyhow, which author is responsible for your love for literature? And what did you unconsciously take with you from your favourite childhood reads?

Comment: A seemingly strange coincidence has occurred. In pre-writing this blog post, in keeping with my punctual routine, I was not actually aware that it would’ve been Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday this month. Whilst this post is rather late, I wish for it to be a tribute to his beautifully inspiring novels. Also here is my Roald Dahl collection:

(Finally, I am aware that this post is early. I have so many university trips, workshops and open days this weekend, so I decided that I’d rather post earlier than later)