Falling in Love with Reading & Roald Dahl’s Matilda | 25 Years of Matilda
Everyone who’s read Matilda knows how much she loves books. In Matilda, Dahl writes, “The walk [to the library] took only ten minutes and this allowed her two glorious hours sitting quietly by herself in a cosy corner devouring one book after another. When she had read every single children’s book in the place, she started wandering round in search of something else.” Every Monday, bloggers on the Matilda 25th Anniversary tour will write about how they fell in love with books, just like Matilda!
Penguin Teen: I think it’s safe to say that Matilda falls head over heels in love with books. She takes a wagon to gather them from the library. She hides away in her room and reads them for hours. She loves the worlds, the knowledge, the writing. What was it like for you to fall in love with books for the first time? Was it similar to Matilda’s experience? Do you remember reading Matilda for the first time?
Bianca Schulze: For me, falling in love with books could be compared with a romantic comedy in which a woman awakens one day only to realize that the boy she’s always considered her best friend is actually the man she wants to marry. Books have always been accessible to me: my mom read to me as a child, my mom read her own books in front of me and would disappear into the pages for hours, and I have had a library card for as long as I can remember—and lots of late fees too. However, it wasn’t until I became a parent that I realized that these objects full of words were a lifelong passion—I had always enjoyed books, but I was now officially “in love” with books.
I never considered myself a bookworm, but reflecting back to my childhood years I have some very fond memories that involve books and that would indicate I was always destined to be a lover of books:
- I used to build homes for Barbie out of Golden Books.
- I would spend entire recess and lunch breaks searching for Waldo in the Where’s Waldo? books.
- I dreamed of running my own babysitting club just like the characters in Ann M. Martin’s series The Baby-sitters Club.
- I listened to many books on tape—The Wizard of Oz book on tape scared me, but I tortured myself regularly with the flying monkeys and dramatic background music.
- I also, of course, delighted in the wonderfully wicked worlds that Roald Dahl created in his books.
I can whole-heartedly say that my experience of falling in love with books was similar to Matilda’s: Once I realized how much I love to read, I immersed myself in literature—I even went as far as creating this blog! I only wish that I had realized how much I enjoyed the company of books as early as Matilda did—she’s a little genius! Now, perhaps if I had actually read Matilda as a child, it’s possible I would have connected the dots and found my calling as a literature enthusiast much sooner—perhaps I’d even be a published author.
Throughout my childhood, I read many of Dahl’s other books: James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Witches, The Twits (my second favorite) and (my favorite) Revolting Rhymes. Dahl’s talent lies within his power to create poignant satire—his ability to touch the hearts of young readers through absurdity is unmarked. This is why I am so thrilled to introduce Roald Dahl to my seven-year-old with the book loving character Matilda. I will always remember the first time I read Matilda because I’m currently sharing this moment with my daughter who so clearly is already in love with books. I know I am creating a lifelong reader and, with any luck, a reader that will continue to have a wickedly good sense of humor. Thank you Roald Dahl (forever in my reading heart) for your creative writing and thank you Matilda for empowering young girls to be knowledgeable and brave!
Did you know Matilda is now a Tony Award-nominated Broadway Musical? The show opened in April (2013) and has already been nominated for 12 Tony Awards, including Best Musical! You can buy tickets, see pictures, and listen to music from Matilda the Musical on their website: http://us.matildathemusical.com/
About Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl (1916-1990) was born in Llandaff, South Wales, and went to Repton School in England. His parents were Norwegian, so holidays were spent in Norway. As he explains in Boy, he turned down the idea of university in favor of a job that would take him to “a wonderful faraway place.” In 1933 he joined the Shell Company, which sent him to Mombasa in East Africa. When World War II began in 1939 he became a fighter pilot and in 1942 was made assistant air attaché in Washington, where he started to write short stories. His first major success as a writer for children was in 1964. Thereafter his children’s books brought him increasing popularity, and when he died children mourned the world over. Matilda was published just two years before he died. Quentin Blake, the first Children’s Laureate of the United Kingdom, has illustrated most of Roald Dahl’s children’s books.
Matilda is a genius. Unfortunately, her family treats her like a dolt. Her crooked car-salesman father and loud, bingo-obsessed mother think Matilda’s only talent is as a scapegoat for everything that goes wrong in their miserable lives. But it’s not long before the sweet and sensitive child decides to fight back. Faced with practical jokes of sheer brilliance, her parents don’t stand a chance.
Matilda applies her untapped mental powers to rid the school of the evil, child-hating headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, and restore her nice teacher, Miss Honey, to financial security.
Add this book to your collection: Matilda
For the next stop on the Matilda 25th Anniversary blog tour, head to Live to Read!