When I was in fourth grade, I read the book Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech. This was the first time I read a book for fun, not because it was an assignment for school, and it fundamentally changed my life. I remember not only how much I loved the book, but how sad I was when I finished it. I recall after reading the final chapter, a feeling of loss, a loss of that world I had inhabited and the characters I had grown to love. However, I was also inspired to find that feeling again, to seek out other worlds I could escape into when my own world seemed so chaotic and, at times, scary. When I read the novel, I was transported into another world I could explore and get lost in. While the book offered many useful lessons and teachings, with its emphasis on the importance of understanding a situation from other people’s perspective, its most important lesson to me was that books offered me a place I could safely escape to. Reading that book made me a life-long reader, a gift that gives itself over and over again, it was the moment that sparked so many future moments.

– Kelsey Walker (PhD candidate in History, University of North Carolina, Greensboro)