The Magic of Words

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Image: Open book with magic dust rising, castle, pegasus and dragon and a purple crayon drawing a sword in a stone to represent the magic of words.

I am forever in awe of the magic of words.

What I do between writing and book coaching and editing is, for the most part, read.

That’s not to say I don’t have chores and errands and spend too much time on social media not being social. I do those things. I eat and sleep and visit with others. Usually in small groups and while eating.

But the one thing I gravitate to, the one thing that pulls at me with a near-constant gravitational force is the written word.



I started reading at an early age. While my mother helped my older brother with his homework, I was constantly beside them, gleaning all I could. Especially, the deciphering of letters and words. The conveyance of thoughts and ideas through these tiny symbols was no less magical to me at the time than the existence of unicorns and fairies and purple crayons that could bring simple drawings to life. (FYI—Even though it was my favorite book, Harold’s seditious act of drawing on the wall with his purple crayon, did not inspire me to do so.)

And that is exactly what these symbols do. They transfer and bring to life the wild imaginings of our minds to others and allow us to access the wide worlds of others.



Once I learned to read, I practically lived in the library. If letters and words were magical, then libraries were worlds filled with magic. And librarians? They’re wizards, aren’t they? I spent hours in the library, surrounded by books. Touching them, reading them, and always heading home with what for me was armloads of treasure.

Our town was small. I used to joke that nearby Davis, CA, which posted the slogan, “Home of 10,000 Bicycles,” had five times as many bicycles as Winters had people. Which, at the time, wasn’t a stretch. So, our library wasn’t huge. It took me only a matter of a few years to read through the children’s section. So, when I was eleven, the day finally came when I finished reading all the kids’ books in the library and made my way over to the other shelves.



I was excited. There were so many new books to explore in this section! I picked up a murder mystery by Agatha Christie and began to read. I grabbed a few more books from that section and went up to the librarian’s desk to checkout. There was nothing automated about the library in those days.

I placed the books on her desk and she slid them over in front of her, then looked up at me and said, “I can’t let you check these out.”

I was stunned. No one had ever denied me books before. I was a shy child, but I’d always felt safe in the library. So, I was able to ask her, “Why not?” Not loudly. But loud enough for her to hear me.

“Because you’re not old enough. These books are for adults.”

I was crestfallen. “But I’ve read all the books in the children’s section.” And I wanted, no, NEEDED, more. Books, stories, characters, other worlds. I couldn’t live without them. They kept me company in a world where I was shy and awkward and had no friends. They comforted me in a world that was loud and noisy and filled with brothers who had no respect for space. They gave me hope in a world where I was told I took up too much space and that I wasn’t what I should be. How could someone deny me that magic? And, why? Because of my age?



I went home, empty-handed, and told my mother that I had nothing to read. That the library was no longer a magical place for me. That access had been barred to the one thing that I loved more than any other. I’m certain I was angry, I imagine there were tears in my eyes.

There are very few times in my life that I can recall my mother took my side on something. Thankfully, this was one of them. She drove me back to the library. We walked in and she went straight to the front desk. I don’t recall the full conversation, but I do remember hearing some of the sweetest words she ever spoke on my behalf, “She can check out any book she wants.”

Which brings me to the ugliness of book bans.

I was privileged to be in a position where just the words of my parent gave me access to what I wanted most, the ability to pick and choose the books I wanted to read. The freedom to choose my own adventure, if you will,  without an authority figure denying me access to the books and stories I wanted to experience and enjoy.

Not every kid is in that position. But every kid deserves to be able to read the books that sing to them. And how will they find those books, stories, and characters that comfort and soothe them in a world filled with negative messaging, bad news, and bullying, where they feel like outsiders or are told that they aren’t what they are supposed to be? How will they find themselves without being able to explore the worlds of others, discover shared experiences, and see themselves represented and reflected in the stories we tell? How will they learn to understand others?

Humans have enough trouble understanding ourselves, much less, one another. Why would anyone try to limit access to one of the most magical paths for access into who we are as human beings?


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