Books are important. For those of us fortunate enough to have had them in our homes when we were small; to have had someone who was not only willing but eager to read those books to us, we were given a life-defining gift that opened new worlds with each turn of a page.

In my own case, our mother was both an avid reader and a lover of theater. She had the ability to take the written word and unleash its magic, transporting each of her six children to other times and places, into moments of heart-breaking grief and unbridled joy, to light our imaginations and teach us to think and to wonder. This “reader’s theater” built life-long book-lovers of her children.

I still remember the day our mother told us she had written a children’s book and was sending it to a publisher. I was wowed beyond words and proudly shared the news with all of my friends. Our mother had written a book that would excite other children just as the books on our shelves excited me! As it turned out, her worthy effort brought a rejection letter, a familiar sight for most authors. Although she continued to write, she lost confidence in her ability to find a place for her words in the world. But I will always remember the glow of that moment; the glow of knowing my mother had written a book.

Over the years, throughout most of my adult life, I too, dabbled with writing. The serious commitment though was a long time in coming. But come, it did. And one day, wonder of wonders, I became the person who had written a book. Last year, when I began accepting opportunities to do author visits, one of my first visits was to a local preschool. My assignment was to talk to tiny human beings about being an author and to then be their “guest-reader” during story time. And oh, it was a blast!

One month later, I was asked by the same preschool teacher if I could fill-in for a few days as her “teaching assistant.” That first morning, I remained in the classroom prepping craft materials while the teacher went to gather her pupils at the front door. As the patter of small feet hurrying down the hallway grew louder, I heard the teacher say, “Today, we have a special helper. Her name is Ms. Deb.”

This announcement was immediately followed by a little girl’s voice, exclaiming, “Ms. Deb?! The author?!”

It made my heart smile. It also reminded me of just how important books are to kids and how in awe they are of the people who pen them.

As an adult who gets out of bed each morning hoping, trying, yet quite often failing, to be the best version of myself, the “mystique” thing is hard for me to comprehend. And yet, the former child in me, the one who trusted and believed in the physical and emotional truths of the books I loved, understands it completely. As an author, I am humbled by that simple faith that children place in us and in the stories we tell. I will never take that responsibility lightly.

DJ Brandon and child

In this old photo, my granddaughter and I, “reading glasses” and all, cement our bond over books.