If I could sit down with each of my favorite authors for an hour, do you know what question I would ask every one of them?
What influences have shaped your writing?
Today I’m going to begin answering that question for you, because I imagine many of you would ask the same question.
There are far too many people who have influenced my writing to put in one blog post (ahem, mammoth post) so let’s make this a post series, shall we? Maybe another time I’ll write a series on experiences that have shaped my writing, but for now, let’s focus on people, and specifically, fellow authors and teachers, who have helped me grow as a writer.
So grab your cup of coffee (or tea, if you must), snuggle up under a blanket, and journey with me through my relationship with literature, starting with… (drumroll please) …
I’m not even joking.
You still think I am, don’t you?
Hear me out for a minute.
I was three years old. Maybe four. My family went to dinner (or something…I don’t really remember) at my preschool teacher’s house. Her husband happened to be my dad’s business partner at the time. There’s a fuzzy picture in my mind of a room and a book in a basket. She read me the book.
It was The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister.
Now, those who know me should be able to easily name one reason why I love that book: I have an affection for anything that sparkles. Who knows – maybe that book is the reason for my sparkle fixation! Reading that book for the first time…I was hooked on books. My mom read to us four kids a lot when we were little. She loves reading to children – and children love hearing her read. I have no doubt that The Rainbow Fish certainly wasn’t my experience being read to by an adult, nor my last.
I could name several other favorite childhood picture books, but The Rainbow Fish sticks out because it was the first time a book had me, heart and soul, forever locked in that favorite place in a reader’s heart. I was drawn into Marcus Pfister’s underwater world through the captivatingly colorful illustrations. I felt the pain and subsequent joy of the rainbow fish as he experiences the loneliness of having no friends followed by the warmth of sharing with others.
My heart still skips a little beat when I see that book. Even as an adult, the book takes me back to that happy reading place, the place where books give us a glimpse into another world and into the experiences of another person (or fish).
How, then, did The Rainbow Fish influence my writing? I think it’s suffice to say that had I not fallen in love with reading fiction, even as a small child, I would not have fallen in love with writing fiction. The Rainbow Fish taught me that books have the power to move the soul, transport the mind to another world, and teach invaluable lessons that shape us more than we’ll ever know.
What’s your favorite children’s book? What’s your earliest memory of reading?