If I had to pick the first occurrence that drove me toward a love of literature and language, I would have to guess that it was a singular experience I had in second grade.
If the class behaved, our teacher, Mrs. Roberts, would reward us at the end of each day with a chapter from James and The Giant Peach.
I am fairly certain that Mrs. Roberts had some formal drama training in her past, because as a child whose mind constantly raced everywhere and anywhere, this brief period at the end of the day was when I first experienced the joy of existing completely in the moment.
It has been nearly 45 years since that magical time, but the vivid imagery still lives with me today. The author, Roald Dahl, was without question one of the most prolific and extraordinary wordsmiths of all time.
If that sounds too effusive, keep in mind that this man also wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Witches, and The Fantastic Mr. Fox, as well as an incredible collection of short stories for adults called Kiss, Kiss.
Today, on September 13th, we celebrate the birthday of this literary genius with a look at what made him famous—his words:
“A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” ~ The Twits
“Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it’s unbelievable.” ~ Matilda
“I understand what you’re saying, and your comments are valuable, but I’m gonna ignore your advice.” ~ Fantastic Mr. Fox
“You’ll never get anywhere if you go about what-iffing like that.” ~ Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
“Meanings is not important,” said the BFG. “I cannot be right all the time. Quite often I is left instead of right.” ~ The BFG
“It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like, so long as somebody loves you.” ~ The Witches
“Well, maybe it started that way. As a dream, but doesn’t everything? Those buildings. These lights. This whole city. Somebody had to dream about it first. And maybe that is what I did. I dreamed about coming here, but then I did it.” ~ James and the Giant Peach
“So please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookshelf on the wall.” ~ Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
“If you’re going to get anywhere in life, you have to read a lot of books.” ~ Letters
“A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom.” ~ Letters