I think I can remember exactly when I fell in love with reading. 

I had been reading books from a very young age because my parents were professional bookbinders, so I was surrounded by books during a lot of my childhood. But I think the moment that I really fell in love with reading was sitting on the carpeted floor of Ms. Solander's second-grade class at Hellgate Elementary. Our class would get together with the class next door, and the teachers would take turns reading to the students while we listened from the floor.

Ms. Solander used voices when she read. Not just a few but many. High ones, low ones, and long-drawn-out ones. I can still remember the way her eyebrows would creep up her forehead when she voiced characters that were exasperated. The books that we read during that time were some of the most impressionable stories of my childhood. 

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To this day, one of my favorite children’s books is one that Ms. Solander read to us. It's called The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles and it's written by academy-award winning actress Julie Andrews, of all people.  

The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles
Harper & Row, 1974

We read a lot of Roald Dahl, too. The BFG, Matilda, and Fantastic Mr. Fox. When I saw that a study by the 95 Percent Group of each state’s most Googled children’s book showed that Montana's most popular children's book is Fantastic Mr. Fox, I can't say that I was surprised.  

Puffin Books 1988
Puffin Books 1988

If you remember or know the story, it's about animals and farmers. There are themes of community, survival, and greed. Montanans, like Mr. Fox, are cunning and clever, but they’re community-driven too, so I can see how this would be the most searched book.  

Roald Dahl has a “controversial legacy” due to his personal views, as one TIME article described it, which you can read more about hereAnd there's certainly a lot of controversy, in general, about books right now because of the increase in banned books

If you care at all about reading, please give a book to someone in your life. Give books to the children in your life. Give books to the adults you know. If you can, consider buying books at local bookshops like Fact and Fiction, in Missoula, the Country Bookshelf in Bozeman, Montana Book Company in Helena, or This House of Books in Billings. If you would like to buy a book online, consider ordering from bookshop.org, which financially supports local bookstores, or on IndieBound from the American Booksellers Association.  

And let me finish by saying a huge thank you to Ms. Solander. I'm forever grateful for instilling in me the joy of reading.  

Do You Remember These Nostalgic '90s Cartoons?

Grab the Gushers, we're about to look at those cartoons you binge-watched after school.

Gallery Credit: Danielle Kootman

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