A Literary History

A Literary History

A Story by mhanv

This was written to reflect on my own history as a reader. My intention is to share my piece with my incoming students and parents.


I have always had a fascination with words. As a baby, I wiggled my legs and sang the ABC's in my car seat before I could walk. I had a massive collection of books on tape, and demanded to my parents that they be played every night before bed. Aesop’s Fables and tales of Br’er Rabbit lulled me to sleep. I propped up papers on my toy box and triumphantly scribbled stories of my own, long before I knew how to write. I stayed at the breakfast table after eating my cereal, eagerly reading each detail my cereal box had to offer. I begged my teachers to let me stay inside during recess and assemblies so I could continue to solve mysteries with the Boxcar Children. I joined my third-grade class, on the carpet ten minutes after a lesson had begun, for I was too engulfed in my book to hear the chimes ring.

My grandmother was essential in transforming my literary world. She was an elementary school teacher and known throughout the school as a commanding, yet caring force in her classroom. She brought me old picture books and textbooks from her classroom. These books--old, dusty, cracking spines--were deemed unreadable by her students. Uninteresting. They were my treasures. I piled these books on my bed and read, and read, and read. My favorites were about a family who lived under the sea and a story about an exploration of creatures of the Amazon. My thirst for words was insatiable, but it was always quenched with another bag of books from her classroom.

No book had changed my world like when my grandmother gave me my first copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I was in third-grade and the book had recently been released in the States. I remember tracing the paperback’s gold letters and studying the images carefully. Was that a broom the boy was riding? A unicorn running past the forest? And what was that three-headed thing hiding under the castle? The cover’s images were enchanting and I could not wait to unlock the book’s contents.

A few pages in and I was completely captivated. Books had transported me to new worlds before. But nothing had ever made me ache to my bones that I wasn’t actually there; exploring an enchanted castle with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. How I longed to receive that magical letter on my eleventh birthday, load my trunk onto the Hogwart’s Express, and don the Sorting Hat in the Great Hall. I devoured the book--sucking each word for more marrow and savoring every detail. Every space and surface became my personal library; my treehouse, the back of my mother’s minivan, the lobby of a restaurant, and sometimes, even the pew of a church (though the book was carefully disguised as a Bible). Each time I opened Harry Potter, I resumed my seat in Potions class, chased the Golden Snitch around the Quidditch pitch, and searched for He Who Must Not Be Named along the edge of the Forbidden Forest. This whimsical world captivated me and I was willing to stay there for as long as possible. My joy was uncontainable with the release of each new book. I would hide away for days until I had relished each word.

Though I had always been a lover of books, the Harry Potter series is what truly ignited my flame as a voracious reader. I spent the rest of my school days trying to chase that feeling of reading Harry Potter for the first time. The library and local bookstore were my favorite places in the world. The Catcher in the Rye was the book that bridged my world from tales for teens to stories meant for adults. I was engulfed by The Kite Runner’s tale of friendship, love, and redemption in war-torn Afghanistan. Lolita’s beautiful words and complicated plot left me perplexed.

I loved books so much that I followed them to college. I became an English Literature major. My backpack always carried my latest Norton Anthology, full of meticulous highlights and comments. My British Literature professor mesmerized my class when he recited the Canterbury Tales in Old English. After countless hours of study and a grueling final paper, I managed to squeak through the notorious Literary Criticism with an A. I was even brought back to Hogwarts for a semester in a course entirely dedicated to the Harry Potter books and films, under the clever guise of the course name Contemporary British Literature. After receiving my diploma, I proudly displayed the words, Bachelor of Arts, English Language, for all to see.

Something began to happen after graduating. Books lost their luster. The pile of reading on my bed transformed from treasure to tedium. I no longer felt like I was flying over the grounds of Hogwarts in search of the Golden Snitch. The words became so heavy that I could not be transported back to magical realms through my books.

I am still fascinated with words and books, so much that I followed them to my career: teaching. My students are at the same extraordinary age I was when I held my first Harry Potter book in my hands. It is my greatest and most sincere desire as their teacher that they, too, will discover a book as spellbinding as I did. I hope for myself to rediscover that magic alongside them.



© 2017 mhanv

Author's Note

I am struggling with my title (it's very generic) and the introduction.

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Added on June 9, 2017
Last Updated on June 9, 2017



Little Rock , AR