These Words Matter: Courtney Summers 1

These Words Matter: Courtney Summers

The first book that made me fall in love with reading was a movie.

Okay, not quite.

But kind of!

I was very young when I first saw Disney’s The Little Mermaid and I was enamoured with that world. I loved Ariel and Flounder and Sebastian and Prince Eric and hey, even Ursula, because who WOULDN’T? (Uh, besides the heroes of the story.) Ursula knew what she was about. But anyway, there’s only so many times you can subject your family to Part of Your World–sorry, parents!–so after about my 500th viewing, I had to look for other ways to get my fix.

Enter the movie novelization.

I wish I could find a picture of the book itself. I wish I could find the book. It would certainly share a place with other important keepsakes of mine. If I remember correctly, it was a pretty thin paperback–maybe not more than a hundred pages, but still more than I’d ever read at that point in my life. In the middle, there were glossy pages with stills from the movie, which I was super excited to read toward. Now, memory is imperfect, and it’s possible there were books I read before this one—but when people ask me what the first book I read was, this is the one I remember.

Because this is the one that changed everything for me.

To have what I saw onscreen turned into words, to get little moments of insight into Ariel’s feelings, a different perspective on her wants and needs and the danger she was in—was revelatory. It wasn’t a grand, in-depth exploration, it was fairly straightforward, but I was amazed that I could experience a story I knew a different way and not only that, to experience any story this way. It was a wonder to me, how a particular sentence could bring images alive in your head, how they could pinpoint a feeling you might not have been able to express yourself. The power of words truly astounded me. It made me fall in love with books.

And from there, I only wanted more books to read. The Little Mermaid novelization was a stepping stone to works like Charlotte’s Web and The Baby-Sitters Club and The Diary of Anne Frank, which eventually turned into many more stepping stones on the way to works like The Chocolate War and In the Miso Soupwhich have inspired me so much as a writerMy love of reading is intrinsically connected to my want to be a writer, and it turns out, however unexpectedly, they are both tied back to Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

So thanks, Ariel! Hope things are still working out with Prince Eric!

“These Words Matter” is a guest contribution segment. Learn more here.

Courtney Summers

Courtney Summers is the author of amazingly gritty YA novels Cracked Up to Be, Some Girls Are, and Fall For Anything. Her newest YA, All the Rage, will release on April 14, 2015.

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