Favorite Writers: Roald Dahl

“If my books can help children become readers, then I have accomplished something important,” ~ Roald Dahl20140128-112848.jpg

illustration by Nancy Ekholm Berkert

I love Roald Dahl so much. His books have the perfect blend of ridiculous and logic for my half-sound mind. We are reading Charlie and the Chocolate factory (still) and I find myself laughing hysterically, feeling convicted, and aghast at the impropriety of it all! Would that more children’s stories could be more truthful, for the truth is really quite funny.

It’s one of Beau’s and my favorite stories, and we have always compared our children to the characters when they become especially bratty, gluttonous, or addicted to tv. We sing “I want the world…I want the WHOLE world!” When they get the I wantsies, say “Slow down Augustus! Save some room for later!” When they want more and more and more candy, “cheer up, Charlie…” When they’re sad, etc. (you can laugh at me for using quotes from the movie and not the book in a post about reading all you want).

I read the book a long time ago, but I am being reminded of some favorite parts this go around. I adored the Oompa Loompa song for Mike Teavee all about books. 20140128-113023.jpgI’ve been needing book cases like mad for all the books I have for the kids. I have been waiting and waiting for the day when they like to curl up with pages, able to pick and choose any story they like from the shelves. I forced Finn to read over Christmas break and it was like a sudden literary break through. He definitely would still rather be putting together a model or playing Zelda, but where once his eyes would glaze over when I read to him, and he couldn’t even remember the sound certain letters made… he now laughs at all the best parts. My heart!

“I never get any protests from children. All you get are giggles of mirth and squirms of delight. I know what children like,” ~Roald Dahl20140128-113011.jpg

Finn adores James and the Giant Peach, too. I haven’t read that since I was little! And there’s the BFG, and Matilda, and Fantastic Mr. Fox! It’s so exciting to have so many worlds and friends available to us. And that’s only one author!

“So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.” – from “Matilda”

I also LOVE Roald Dahl’s quotes about writing. I read his biography, and he makes it clear that it is not an easy thing to come up with new ideas and make magic on a page as a profession. But that it is necessary and worthwhile if it is your passion.

“If you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be,” ~Roald Dahl

I have been terrified to rewrite and edit the first draft of my book. Fear of it being shoddy and indecipherable and me being incapable of fixing it, fear of the next step leading to the next, and above all fear of failure and being laughed at, and people smugly thinking, “I thought so.” The Wicked wicked nasty miss Trunchbulls of this world.

20140128-113038.jpgBut I am inspired by the idea of creating another world for the lonely littles of this world, instead. To only think of them, an no one else. It’s the kind of story I wanted to read when I was eight. And when Roald Dahl talks about being 7 or 8 again when he is in his study writing, I am filled with the wonder of what could be. He was riding in a peach and on a chocolate river, and I am wearing a cocoon and climbing enormous trees. I am growing glittering wings.

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it,” ~Roald Dahl

I think the best part of all about reading books to the boys, is that we are suddenly the same age. We are all in a chocolate factory gawking and giggling at Mr. Wonka. Roald Dahl didn’t just help my son become a reader, he helped me connect with him in a magical time reversing way. And I love his cantankerous, witty, sparkling soul for it.20140128-131333.jpg

2 thoughts on “Favorite Writers: Roald Dahl

  1. We read BFG a couple months ago. His giantese is hysterically brilliant. The kids loved it. I need to get my hands on chocolate factory now!

  2. We read chocolate factory and fantastic mr. fox…so great! Though I have to admit to not getting into James and the giant peach…too negative and not in the life lessons kind of way that chocolate factory really excels at! Anyway, love your thoughts here and love how when an author does it right it’s not just a children’s book anymore…chronicles of narnia and Harry potter too :)

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