“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit”. Bored while marking school certificate papers, J. R.R Tolkien came across a blank page. He proceeded to jot down what would be the start of a rich, high-fancy university.
The Hobbit tells the story of Bilbo Baggins, a respectable hobbit who is very happy with his comfortable life in the Shire. This all changes when he is convinced by a wizard, Gandalf the Grey, to join thirteen dwarves on their journey to Lonely Mountain. On the adventure that follows, Bilbo is confronted by many challenges, including man-eating (and hobbit eating), goblins, giant spiders, and of course the infamous dragon Smaug who has claimed the treasure within Lonely Mountain. Bilbo faced these challenges in a distinct hobbit type of way – he is not a fighter; he hates discomfort and loathes being hungry. However, despite this, he perseveres.
Tolkien style of writing is incredibly detailed and he is able to meticulously describe the environment and people around young Bilbo. It is difficult not to be transported into a meditative state of calm when reading about the world he so beautifully created. These periods of calm are broken up by the high-energy adventure that Tolkien provides the reader. He continuously takes you on new, more exciting adventures.
As a child, reading never came naturally to me. Just Like Bilbo, when pushed out of his comfort zone, reading was always a struggle and something I had to work incredibly hard at. The Hobbit transported me from my bedroom where I was a young girl struggling to read, to a world of magic and endless possibility where even the most unlikely of heroes can achieve great things. My story shows that any child can be encouraged to love reading, it is just about finding the right book for the right child.
My love of reading is one of the gifts I am most grateful for. I will forever be thankful for the wealth of fiction my parents made available to me – The Hobbit most notably so. It has unlocked my imagination, taught me empathy, and allowed myself to envision what I would be. As Gandalf said of Bilbo, “There is a lot more in him than you guess, and a deal more than he has any idea of himself”. The same is true for all the children, like me, reading under the covers after your parents have already told you to go to sleep three times. It provides you with the escapism and freedom we need to thrive.
The Hobbit was the start of my literary journey and with youth day just behind us, I recommend it to all parents and children starting this same journey. I hope that it provides them as much joy as it did me.