Campbell column: The magical world of books

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 17, 2011

It turns out I have three copies of C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” I also have three different versions of Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre.”
Apparently, when I like a book I feel the need to hoard several copies.
I realized this as I was packing earlier this week. I’m only moving a few blocks, but that still requires filling boxes and bags with everything I own.
That process always makes me discover things I forgot I had, like three copies of my favorite books.
I should probably donate the duplicate books, but I keep them around because I love them and the thought of parting with them is just unbearable.
I read “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” for the first time in third grade in a quest to earn Accelerated Reader points.
At the time, I had no idea that I was stumbling upon one of my favorite books. I figured I’d read it, take the test and forget about it. After all, that’s what happened to most of the books I read as a child.
But it was different.
I got sucked into the magical world of Narnia almost instantly.
I felt like I was there befriending Tumnus with Lucy, savoring Turkish Delights with Edmund and fighting the White Witch with Peter.
I started dreaming about my own magical wardrobe that would transport me to a place like Narnia. But no one in my family had one and closets just didn’t do the trick.
So when I walked into my sister’s dorm room a few years ago to find a huge wardrobe I was thrilled to stand in front of what I once viewed as a portal to the unknown. It immediately reminded me of the adventures of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”
I fell in love with “Jane Eyre” while reading it for my Women in Literature class in college.
I really like the character of Jane because she isn’t a “woe is me” type lady, she’s a “I will survive” kind of woman. Despite the challenges Jane faces, she remains unbroken.
Both of these books are a good example of why required reading is good for students.
It gets them to step outside their element and try different titles, authors and genres.
I could rattle off about a dozen other of my favorite books that started off as required reading, including Truman Capotes’s “In Cold Blood,” and Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment.”
I hope when students receive reading assignments at school they won’t turn to Cliff Notes instead of actually reading the book.
I know when I was in high school and college that’s what a lot of my peers did. And I admit, I did it once or twice as well.
I regret that now. But I’ve never regretted actually taking the time to read a book, even if it didn’t become a favorite.
Sarah Campbell covers education for the Post. Contact her at 704-797-7683.