To coincidence with the re-release of one of children’s literature’s greatest books, I’ve got THREE copies of The Hobbit to give away. To win, leave a comment about your favourite childhood story/book you can remember reading with your parents.
To my shame, I have never actually read The Hobbit. It wasn’t on the curriculum at the state comprehensive I went to and I never sought it out. It’s only now, as a father, that I wish I had.
However, I know a woman who has read it. And it changed her life.
She’s my wife, Rebecca, mother of my stepdaughter Daisy, ten (that’s her, above, getting stuck in), and our two sons, Tom and Sam, aged seven and four.
I asked her about the impact The Hobbit made on her when she was a little girl. Here’s what she wrote…
‘I am in my bedroom, lying on my bed listening to the clatter of my mum in the kitchen downstairs, and there is a door in front of me, a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle.
And all I want to do is push it open and see what lies beyond.
So I do.
And I am propelled into a world so vast, so thrilling and rich in colour and scope, yet precise to the very last detail, it pops my eyeballs and sucks the breath right out of my lungs.
It is now more than 30 years since I first read The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien but the moment I opened Bilbo Baggins’s front door again, I was full of the same eye-popping wonder.
It is, in many ways, such a simple story about a company of friends who go on an adventure.
But it changed my life.
Aged ten, I was shy and awkward. I didn’t really fit in anywhere. I wasn’t cool, I didn’t have posters of popstars on my wall and I lived largely in my own inner world and, well, that was the kind of behaviour that saw you getting picked last for everything at school – except a savaging by the popular kids.
It was The Hobbit that saved me.
The story, the characters, the strange and fantastical lands were my escape. I loved Tolkien’s language – otherworldly, yet oddly also down-to-earth, and really funny. I loved the creatures – the elves, the dwarves, goblins and trolls. I loved the names – Thorin Oakenshield, Smaug and Gollum.
I was blown away by the enormity of the creation. There were maps and back-stories and even a dwarvish language. It was, and still is, almost impossible to believe that all of this came from the imagination of one man.
I knew straightaway, of course, that I was Bilbo, the timid and distinctly ordinary hobbit who, without wanting to, finds himself embarking upon a perilous journey.
Along the way he makes friends, battles enemies, steals a very important ring, bags the treasure and, most importantly, discovers he is not so timid and ordinary after all.
For that last bit alone, I owe this book a lot.
In fact, it’s hard to overestimate the impact The Hobbit made on my life. It made me believe that inside the timid and awkward me was someone who could strive and be successful. It started my love affair with reading and the written word that still endures. It made me realise that there is simply no limit to the sweeping breadth and depth of the imagination, and it made me determined to be a writer when I grew up.
If we accept, and I do, that no reading you do in your lifetime is as important as the reading you do as a child, then it is true to say this book made me who I am.’
If you’d like the chance to win a copy of The Hobbit, please leave a comment below about your favourite childhood story/book that you can remember reading with your parents.
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