"This I Believe" 2013 Selection
Sangamon Valley High School
"The Girl Detective and Me"
At the age of eight, I was introduced to the young woman who would change my life. The more I learned about her, the more I admired her. We went on adventures together, and though some were a little too scary for me, I was always delighted to tag along.
This woman’s name was Nancy Drew. Yes, she was a fictional character, but she was also my friend. In a single summer, I read every one of the 56 original Nancy Drew books. That was the same summer that I became a Reader.
With the help of Nancy Drew, I learned the magic of books. How they can transport you and show you other worlds. After completing the Nancy Drew series, I was driven to read every book I could find. The Pevensies – those four young siblings who traveled to Narnia – soon became my best friends. I read and reread The Chronicles of Narnia so many times that I had to buy a second copy when the first one simply fell apart.
Many of the books I read were set in places far more real than Narnia. Through these books, I have learned of the struggles faced by so many people in this world. My favorite book throughout middle school was Kartography by Kamila Shamsie. In it, I learned about Pakistan’s civil war, and the effect it had on the nation’s people. I was stunned. That book – along with many others – showed me how lucky I am.
I wouldn’t be the same person that I am today if I had never become such a reader. I’ve come along way from those days spent sleuthing with Nancy Drew. Books are portals to other worlds. I’ve traversed the English countryside with Sherlock Holmes and driven around West Egg with Daisy and Gatsby. Sometimes these worlds are fictional, like Hogwarts or Narnia. But so many books I have read have taught me about real places on this planet – places that seem like they could be universes away. I know of the cultures and people around our own world, and I believe I have become more compassionate and understanding because of it. And I feel that I owe it all to that famous girl detective.