Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Book that Changed My Life

I believe I was in third grade. Maybe second. Regardless, I was young, impressionable. And I absolutely loved dogs.

I sat in the big green chair in my living room, my back leaning against the arm as my little child body tucked itself into the corner. With my body thus safely disposed, my soul devoured the adventures of Billy, Old Dan, and Little Anne. Where the Red Fern Grows was, I believe, my first legitimate literary love. I yearned to be in the backwoods hunting coons, I wanted nothing to eat but biscuits and ham and all things country, and I ached as I read the ultimate fate of the dogs, despite the miraculous appearance of the red fern.
It was through this book that I discovered what a book can be.

Perhaps, more accurately, I should say that it was through this book that I discovered where a book could take me. Maybe I had discovered other worlds through books before, but none had been so inviting as Billy's Oklahoma stomping grounds. I'm not saying I would have never come to love reading had Wilson Rawls not written Where the Red Fern Grows. But it's safe to say that I came to love reading, at that time, when my scholarly mind was still in the incubator-environment of elementary school, because of it.

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