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The Book That Changed My Life: Aliens Don’t Discriminate

As a former librarian and teacher, I have seen the power of books and their ability to change lives—and save lives. A book is a place to fall in love with words, the first seeds to grow into a garden of imagination. The book that changed my life was Virginia Hamilton’s Willie Bea and the […]

The Book That Changed My Life: Didn’t You CRY?

In ninth grade I was blessed with an English teacher, Miss Soule, who really loved books. (Not always the case with English teachers, witness my tenth grade teacher, who pronounced genre with a hard g.) Miss Soule had a standing weekly assignment for which we were required to turn in some kind of book-related project […]

The Book That Changed My Life: A Couple of Misfits

It’s obvious from the very beginning of Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park that the two of them are a couple of misfits. I couldn’t imagine how their worlds would overlap, much less merge, and I bet Eleanor and Park didn’t either. From being weird, misfitty friends, they gradually start to find each other attractive, though […]

That Book That Changed My Life: Hearts So Full

Asking me to write about a book that changed my life is like asking me to choose just one star. Hundreds have changed me, each shining its own light, each from its own station in the firmament, all of those stations slowly whirling so I see them from new vantage points as I age. One […]

The Book That Changed My Life: A Sense of Possibility

I am sitting at my desk, age seventy-five, and I am searching my mind, going way back for “a book that changed my life.” I’ve managed to get as far back as the late 1940s in Sydney, Australia. There I am on my stomach on the living-room floor and…no, that won’t do, those are comics! […]

The Book That Changed My Life: Not-So-Simple Semple

I began my writing career in the fifth grade, penning rap lyrics, love letters, and short stories. But in the sixth grade, my teacher, Mrs. Davis, introduced me to the writers and poets of the Harlem Renaissance. I remember being as fascinated by those writers as I was by the modern-day “poets” at the time, […]

The Book That Changed My Life: Jo March Is Me

Thank goodness we live in a literary era when cultural and racial identities are seen as important mirrors in stories. That wasn’t true when I came of age. Maybe that’s why it feels odd to confess that Jo March in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women was such a profound influence during my adolescence. But here’s […]

The Book That Changed My Life: My Heart’s Music

There are the moments when a single book scoops you up, holds you, rocks you, and begs you to feel your own soul’s depth. For me that book was — and still is — Maya Angelou’s autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. I was a teenager when I encountered Maya’s signature tale. I […]

The Book That Changed My Life: A Dangerous Book

My high-school classmate Lena B. told me that one of the female characters in Doctor Zhivago was based on her grandmother. I had never heard of Doctor Zhivago. “What’s the big deal?” I said. “It’s just a book.” She was appalled. Lena moved in the dissident circles closely watched by the KGB (place: USSR; time: […]

“The Book That Changed My Life” series

For the May/June 2018 Horn Book Magazine: Special Issue: Making a Difference (gorgeous cover at right by Yuyi Morales), we asked fifteen-plus children’s book creators to write about the book that changed their lives. The answers were heartfelt, touching, sometimes humorous, always thoughtful — and a welcome reminder about the enduring power of books and […]