Happy 100th Birthday, Roald Dahl: What He Means to Me

“All the reading she had done had given her a view of life that they had never seen.” 

― Roald Dahl, Matilda

Even in 2016 you can still be looked at funny for reading or professing a love for reading. I can protest to that. It happened to me only weeks ago. I worked at Head Office for a sports company and on my break I was reading (I was rereading the Harry Potter books before I went to the Harry Potter Studios and the Cursed Child play, if you were curious), when one of my colleagues made fun of me for reading. I was shocked. Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t care less that he made fun of me. What shocked me that people in their 20s still think that, one, it’s okay to make fun of someone’s passions, and two, that reading is not soul and life-enriching.

I always loved to read. I studied English Literature at university. A few months ago, I counted all the books I owned but had not read and the total stood at over 100. Recently, I rearranged my bookshelf into colour (and it looks Instagram worthy). I thought, as a society, we were over looking down at reading. I believed that the recent rise in fame of Game of Thrones has helped this along.

I assumed wrongly. However, we have come a long way. It reminds me of my childhood, when reading was not seen as a ‘popular’ thing to do. Reading is a means of escape, travelling to different worlds with different people. What better book is there to read, when you are put down for your love of reading, than Roald Dahl’s Matilda? None, and I believe there never will be a greater one.

She is every reader who is told not to read. She is every child that is not listened to by adults. She is every girl who is told that they should be beautiful not smart. She is every lonely child without a friend. She is every child that wishes to stay young and laugh. She is every person who wants to learn against the odds. She is in me. She is in all of you.

I’ll never forget the way it made me feel. It was like Roald Dahl had been a visitor in my mind, wrote down all my jumbled feelings and turned them into a book. I felt like I was represented. I was not the only child who loved to read in a place where other children did not.

Matilda is only one of so many books that sparked my interest in Roald Dahl. I remember seeing The Twits live on stage, I remember writing an essay on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for my degree, and I’ve recently visited The Quentin Blake exhibition at Cardiff Museum, which I recommend! So, whether you love Roald Dahl, or remember reading his books as a child, or maybe you haven’t read any at all, use today, his 100th Birthday, to take some time to read one. Immerse yourself in a different world and find yourself among it, destress, and read some of the best sentences in children’s literature.

“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.”

― Roald Dahl, The Twits

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