SHONDALAND: My Love of Reading Has Shaped My Entire Life

It’s a crisp Saturday afternoon in 1980, and I stand in the center of the gift shop at Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, surrounded by beckoning shelves. Radiant light filters in through the windows. Across the room, a cluster of items catches my eye. I walk over, crouch down, and run my fingers over the row of books until I stop. The flatness of the black typeface extending along the turquoise spine belies the danger promised by its title: Mystery at Old Sturbridge Village. I pull out the book. In the center of the cover, two girls crouch in darkness, facing the entrance to the village’s lattice truss covered bridge. They both sport identical shoulder-length bobs, sweaters, and skirts, only one is blonde with a red sweater, and the other wears a pale blue sweater and has brunette hair, just like me. The brunette holds up her right hand in a gesture of fear. It’s nighttime in the picture, and the branches of a gigantic maple tree loom ominously over them. My heart races. I am certain: This will be my first chapter book. I was 7 years old when I left children’s picture books behind and graduated to stories told in prose. Click on title to find link to Full Article