A note from an incarcerated parent to their child in a new book they picked for them (CLiF’s Children of Prison Inmates Program)

Do you remember the first book you read all by yourself? My earliest memories of reading were making up my own Beatrix Potter stories about animals, our thick cloth-bound volume of her collected stories (passed down through generations) on my lap, flipping pages randomly, sometimes in the wrong order. It was those stories, which I knew by heart, that helped me fall in love with reading with my parents’ guidance. But I still remember the very first chapter book I read on my own.

It was my mother’s well-loved copy of Nancy Drew’s The Secret of the Old Clock and it took me more than a month to get through it. I was in first grade and so proud to be able to read a “big-kid book” without any help. It was kind of a slog without pictures and the familiarity of stories my parents had read with me over and over. I remember finally getting to pin a paper shoe to my classroom’s reading race log with the title, my first chapter book. I’d worked for so long on that book, struggled with some of the vocabulary and concepts, but I did it. I was finally a reader like my parents, who constantly had a novel or two on their bed stands. That book helped unlock whole new worlds for me and sparked a lifelong love of reading, which has remained central to my life ever since.

Do you have young readers venturing into reading on their own? What books do they love?

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