Growing A Reader
by Natalie D. Richards
Dr. Seuss taught me to read, and Green Eggs and Ham was my favorite - before I really understood all the words, I pored over the incredible art, looking at the…well what were they? Animals? Cats? Furry people? And don’t get me started on the contraptions and vehicles, everything balanced on long, crooked poles and designed in ways that made no discernible sense. They were impossible, and because of that, they were amazing. So amazing, they sucked me right in. I read every single Dr. Seuss book I could get my hands on for years. And it didn’t end in childhood. More than twenty years later, when I was expecting my first child, my nursery theme couldn’t be anything else. (For the record, it was the most awesome nursery in the history of ever.)
Later on, came the Hobbit. I was eleven, maybe? Who knows. It doesn’t matter. I remember the book distinctly, not just the words inside, but the heft of it in my hands, this great green hardback with a beautiful gold symbol on the front, a mash-up of JRRT. I followed Thorin and Bilbo through the Misty Mountains, smelling every page and believing, again, that the impossible could be absolutely real. I wondered then if I could ever write a story like that. Could I make people believe the unbelievable? That beautiful hardback was somehow lost over the years, but my wonderful late father found a copy years later and gave it to me as a Christmas present. I cracked it open, buried my nose in those pages, and I was off to the adventure again.
Last of all came Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman. I was sixteen. Most people who have met me now know I’m a bit of a class clown, but I didn’t have much to laugh about then. A mixture of real life and teenage hormones left me with an overwhelming sense of doom. I was sometimes callous, always mouthy, and perpetually convinced that my life would be as it always had been, a bit strange and a lot dark. To wallow in my angst, I spent a ridiculous amount of time in quirky coffee shops wearing very red lipstick, listening to Nine Inch Nails, and reading Friedrich Nietzsche. I picked up Leaves of Grass at this beautiful independent bookstore in Columbus, The Book Loft. I’d heard of it in school, but I didn’t have a clue what it was about. Almost from the first page I was spellbound. I devoured that book, underlining and marking page after page. I was so enchanted by all these images of travel and friendship—of really living. For me, it wasn’t so much the adventure, it was the hope that slipped through and somehow shook off enough of my pessimism to shift me into a very different place in both reading, and in life.
About the Author
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Natalie D. Richards won her first writing competition in the second grade with her short story about Barbara Frances Bizzlefishes (who wouldn't dare do the dishes.) Now she writes about awesome girls, broody boys, and all things dark and creepy. When she's not writing or shopping her manuscripts, you can probably find her wading through the towers of dog-eared paperbacks that have taken over her bedroom. Natalie lives in Ohio (Go Bucks!) with her techno-wiz husband, three amazing kids, and a seventy pound dust-mop who swears he's the family dog.
About My Secret to Tell
Emerson May is "the good girl." She's the perfect daughter, the caring friend, the animal shelter volunteer. But when her best friend's brother breaks into her room, his hands covered in blood, she doesn't scream or call the cops. Because when Deacon smiles at her, Emmie doesn't want to be good.
The whole town believes notorious troublemaker Deacon is guilty of assaulting his father. Only Emmie knows a secret that could set him free. But if she follows her heart, she could be trusting a killer...
You can't always trust the boy next door.
About Gone Too Far
Keeping secrets ruined her life. But the truth might just kill her.
Piper Woods can't wait for the purgatory of senior year to end. She skirts the fringes of high school like a pro until the morning she finds a notebook with mutilated photographs and a list of student sins. She's sure the book is too gruesome to be true, until pretty, popular Stella dies after a sex-tape goes viral. Everyone's sure it's suicide, but Piper remembers Stella's name from the book and begins to suspect something much worse.
Drowning in secrets she doesn't want to keep, Piper's fears are confirmed when she receives an anonymous text message daring her to make things right. All she needs to do is choose a name, the name of someone who deserves to be punished...
About Six Months Later
She has everything she's ever wanted. But not her memory...
When Chloe fell asleep in study hall, it was the middle of May. When she wakes up, snow is on the ground and she can't remember the last six months of her life.
Before, she'd been a mediocre student. Now, she's on track for valedictorian and being recruited by Ivy League schools. Before, she never had a chance with super jock Blake. Now he's her boyfriend. Before, she and Maggie were inseparable. Now her best friend won't speak to her.
What happened to her? Remembering the truth could be more dangerous than she knows...
Learn more about the Growing A Reader series here!