I remember that the first book I actively sought out was The Dinosaur Heresies by Robert Bakker. It was originally released in 1986, when I was nine years old. I read the reviews in the newspaper when the book first came out and decided I had to have this book. It was one of the first mass-market books to advocate the idea that dinosaurs were warm-blooded instead of cold-blooded; at the time the idea was fairly revolutionary, although movies like Jurassic Park have made it seem commonplace.
When my parents drove me to the bookstore to pick up my copy, the bookstore seemed huge to me, much larger than bookstores seem to me now. The book I wanted was displayed on a table stacked high with many copies. I still remember the cover: an image of a triceratops and a carnivore in combat, with the title and author’s name printed in blue.
As a WITS teacher, I hope that my students will grow up to have unshakable memories about books, reading, and writing just like this. I believe that everyone should have a book that corresponds to their first love, that inspires them to seek out new books and continue the exploration that reading provides. These first books embody a dream for the future; one never knows how those dreams will turn out.
In my case, after signing up as a volunteer at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, I recently discovered that Dr. Bakker, the author of my beloved first book, is the resident paleontologist there. If I continue to volunteer there, it’s very likely that I will be able to meet him and ask questions of my childhood hero in the flesh. It’s a modest end to my dinosaur saga, but one that I find immensely satisfying.
posted by Julian Martinez, Writers in the Schools