Has a book you’ve read changed your life? I recently looked at one of my favorite sources for book-related news and reviews, BookPage.com, and came across Journeys: Young Readers’ Letters to Authors Who Changed Their Lives, a compilation of fifty-two letters from young readers, grades four through twelve, to the authors of the books that changed their lives. The excerpts I read from this book were so touching and beautiful, I just had to share them with you.

Young reader Julia Mueller, for example, writes to Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street, “You didn’t tell me how to pull myself back together; you just showed me that I could. I was tired of trying to be somebody else’s definition of beautiful, and you told me that was okay.”

In another letter to Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House books that so many of us enjoyed as children, Alessandra Selassie explains how reading the series helped her put her father’s African childhood into perspective. “In my dad’s family, just like in your family, two things were really important: being self-reliant and getting an education. Knowing that you could grow your own food and support your family was important. People didn’t have much, but they didn’t want handouts. They wanted to work and work hard, just like your pa always did.” She goes on to say, “I know you wrote these books to help children understand the lives of American pioneers, but for me, it helped me see my father’s African childhood as being less foreign.”

I encourage you to read the other excerpt from Journeys that shares a letter from a girl named Anna to writer Velma Wallis. In the letter, Anna describes how reading the book Two Old Women allowed her to forge a new relationship with her aging, suffering grandfather. Read the full letter excerpt here.

What about you? Has a book you’ve read changed your life? If so, I’d love for you to give this exercise a try. Write a letter to the author and explain how his or her writing impacted you, and then, if you’d like to share it, copy your text into the comments section below. You never know how your letter may change someone else’s life.

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