Growing A Reader
by Jody Casella
The summer I was five my family lived in a campground. My world was a tent and a picnic table. Lanterns. Rain dripping on canvas. A damp sleeping bag. A trek down a dirt road whenever I needed to use the bathroom. And library books. My favorite was Madeline. I loved the house in Paris. The orderliness. The electricity! The girls in their uniforms. The two rows of beds. Madeline's fearlessness. I was afraid of thunderstorms and the dark. Madeline bravely pranced up to tigers at the zoo and said Pooh Pooh. Even getting her appendix out didn't faze her.
Nights at the campground, the hard ground under my sleeping bag disappeared as I pored over the illustrations in Madeline, and magically, I was a little girl curled up in one of the beds in the old house in Paris, the kindly Miss Clavell poking her head into the room to say good night before she turned out the lights.
The year I turned seven my father died. By then we lived in an apartment, but we had no car. Every Saturday my mother walked my younger brothers and me to the library downtown. One of the librarians took an interest in me. She helped me browse and book-talked books she thought I might like. All of a Kind Family. Betsy-Tacy. The Borrowers. She guessed I'd like quiet books, gentle mysteries, fantasies. Maybe she could tell I had enough drama in my real life.
One day when I was maybe nine or ten, the lovely librarian, who by then had a stack of books chosen and waiting for me each week, informed me that it was her last day. I burst into tears. The librarian asked my mother if she could take me out for lunch, and we walked around the corner from the library to the Friendly's and ate burgers and talked books like we were old friends.
My mother remarried and we moved into a nice house. We had two cars, and my brothers and I went to private schools. But let's just say my stepfather was not a nice man.
Still, I was lucky.
I was a full-blown reader, picking out my own library books, reading the ones I loved over and over. I had discovered something magical, that when you open a book, when you read those first few pages, you fall into the story and escape into another world, real as this one, and often, infinitely better.
About the Author
Jody Casella is a former high school English teacher. Her first novel Thin Space, a paranormal YA mystery published by Beyond Words/Simon & Schuster, received a starred review from Kirkus. She lives with her husband and two teenagers in Columbus, Ohio. In addition to writing books, she visits schools, libraries, and book clubs to talk about the creative/revision process. She sporadically cleans her house. And walks her dog. A lot.
About Thin Space
Ever since the car accident that killed his twin brother, Marshall Windsor has been consumed with guilt and crippled by secrets of that fateful night. He has only one chance to make amends, to right his wrongs and set things right. He must find a Thin Space—a mythical point where the barrier between this world and the next is thin enough for a person to step through to the other side.
But, when a new girl moves into the house next door, the same house Marsh is sure holds a thin space, she may be the key—or the unraveling of all his secrets.
As they get closer to finding a thin space—and closer to each other—Marsh must decide once and for all how far he’s willing to go to right the wrongs of the living…and the dead.
Learn more about the Growing A Reader series here!