There’s no doubt that books impact our lives throughout childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. We often reminisce on the feeling of reading our first book or the book that made us fall in love with reading. But how often do we think of the people who gifted or brought us these incredible books? This Mother’s Day, we’re highlighting the books and stories our moms gave us that changed our lives forever, whether we realized it at the time or not. Today, we’re thanking our moms for helping us discover our love of reading and storytelling.
Meet Felicity (The American Girls Collection) by Valerie Tripp
Veronica Vintilla, Graphics
I was probably about five or six years old when I checked out my first American Girl book from the library with my mom. These were the first book series I remember reading, and I used to read them at night out loud with my mom. I have had a passion for reading ever since then! My mom has always been an avid reader as well. I’m so thankful she passed down her love of reading to me by reading with me when I was little. Even now that I’m older, we share book recommendations with each other all of the time.
Jess by Mary Casanova
Lexi Dockery, Editorial
When I was in elementary school, I would always walk straight to the American Girl section of Barnes and Noble. My mom bought me the entire set of my favorites, like Samantha and Felicity, and would even play the American Girl video games with me. But the one book that she bought that stood out to me was Jess by Mary Casanova. Jess was half Japanese and half Irish, making her the first biracial American Girl character. When my mom saw the book and doll on display, she said, “She looks just like you!” I’m half Filipino and half Irish and, at the time, barely saw any biracial representation in the books I had read. It was the first of many AAPI books that would eventually fill my shelves. I will always be grateful to my mom for sharing that moment with me.
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
Jessica Heck, Editorial
This classic book made its way into my heart at an early age, but my first love for animals brought me there. When my mom and I walked into my first book fair in elementary school, the cover of Charlotte’s Web entranced me with the cutest little pig. I spent a lot of my childhood on my family’s farm and became emotionally attached to our animals. My mom knew I’d want it, and without hesitation, she bought it. I expected to read a story about the friendship between these farm animals and their owners. However, I was thrown onto an emotional rollercoaster learning about the confusing concepts of life and death instead.
Having lost my grandmother a few years prior, I was still coping with the grief of losing someone so close to me. Looking back, this book taught me about friendship, the importance of sticking up for yourself, and that even in loss, you are not alone. My mom kept my head on straight and taught me to never shied away from talking about the hard things. I was a kid that asked questions, and this book was just the start. Plus, the instant gratification you get when buying a book you really want initially started with my mom. Now, we have an embarrassing book collection that exceeds both our bedrooms.
Cambodian Myths and Folklore
Maria Oum, Editorial
My family arrived in the United States in the 1980s as Cambodian refugees. Reading was always stressed for my sister and me because it represented something that my parents could never enjoy freely and a way for us to be successful. The mother figures in my life, my mother and maternal grandmother, are not people who read. My grandmother is illiterate in both Khmer and English and my mom only ever used English to communicate at work. So reading is something that I don’t share with them. However, oral stories were always told at home growing up. From Cambodian myths and folklore to my mom or grandma recounting innocuous tales from their own childhood, those were the stories I grew up with. Rather than a book given by my mother figures that changed my life, the mother figures in my life showed me that storytelling are tales that are personal and represent a piece of our cultural identity that we’re not exposed to outside the home. Books exist because people survive to tell the story.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Griffyn Tijamo, Graphics
My mom bought me The Book Thief when I was about 15 years old, and I would occasionally read it. I’d put it down for so long that by the time I picked it up again, I’d have to start over from the beginning. After bringing it with me to college, I finally finished it. I could not remember the last time I cried so hard over a book, especially between my attachment to a lot of the characters and how strong they remained despite the tragic events that took place. The fact that it took me nearly 4 years to finish made it much more impactful because I think I would understand a new aspect of the story differently every time. I had continuously been drawn back to The Book Thief because of its narrator being Death. I always found that grimly interesting. It was one of my first experiences reading historical fiction, which has since become one of my favorite genres.
If you’re looking for more ways to celebrate Mother’s Day, keep reading here!