“Mr. Olsen in the fifth grade made me want to be a writer. He said, ‘Chuck, you do this really well. And this is much better than setting fires, so keep it up’. That made me a writer.”

How cute is that! This is probably one of Palahnuik’s very early works. Encouraged by his fifth grade teacher Mr. Olsen, this a poem about dragons. I guess he could see the potential even back then! 

Seeing this made me think about my own writing as a child. I still keep my infant school textbooks, but how wonderful that Mr. Olsen kept hold of this for all those years and finally sent it to Chuck himself. I wonder how many teachers preserve the works of their young pupils.

Often we don’t realise how influential our teachers can be, especially those in our younger years. I’ve always been lucky to have great English teachers. In third grade Ms. Lacy was the teacher that gave me the reading bug. I remember there were a row of baskets and each basket was graded with a colour. Yellow was the colour I was on, meaning I had easy books. But one day I spotted a girl in class always reading from the purple books (I had a thing for purple back then). When I asked Ms. Lacy why wasn’t I allowed to read from the purple basket she said I had to read all the books that were coloured with a yellow, orange and red tab before I could get to the purple ones.

That did it. I began taking home 4 books a night and worked my way through those baskets so fast she was amazed. Sad thing is, I moved onto fourth grade before I got to the purple basket; which is probably why I’m stuck with a condition known as ‘bibliophilia’! If I’d read at least one book from the purple pile, I wouldn’t have developed this habit of reading in 3’s and 4’s.

So, I’m curious, how did you get your reading habit? Was it a teacher? A parent? Or maybe even genetic? When was the first time you realised that the world of words was a limitless, beautiful place where only your imagination could hinder you?  I’d love to know you thoughts.