There are quite a few books and movies that I wish I would have discovered when I was younger. Its not that I don't appreciate them now, but I feel that I would have LOVED them as a kid or teenager. But, these are the books that I'll make sure I share with my own kids so that they can enjoy them.
Anyway, I didn't read Michael Ende's The Neverending Story until college and my young adult literature class. I had seen the movie a year or two earlier with Matt and thought it was a little weird. Matt had raved about it, and about seeing it as a kid at home. We even purchased it on DVD to watch it because it was "necessary we own it."
I can't remember if a lot of my class loved the book or not, but I know I did. I know for a lot of the people in that class, it was just another novel we had to read. And truthfully, many of the people in that class were not in love with YA literature and reading in general (I guess the whole topic of English majors who don't read is another rant I can go into). But we did talk a lot about the importance of this book and how it does pertain to reading and the reading process.
The story follows a boy, Bastian, who is hiding from bullies. He finds a book called The Neverending Story and begins reading. Immediately he is taken into the world of the book, Fantastica, and begins imagining a place where stories are real. And Bastian has the power, as the reader, to change the world he reads about and to imagine it as he sees fit. He can make changes to the scenes around him and decides the fate of different creatures he comes across.
The overall effect is magic. It is a book lover's dream-the ability to change a mold the world of a story to your desires as the reader. And while I loved the movie, the book was on a completely different level. It was deeper, more involved, and went further than the movie could hope to. It was beautiful.
The magic of the world of Fantastica inspired me in many ways as a reader, and I probably pulled more away from that book than I did from any other we read in that class, even though I loved almost every novel we picked up.
It is a book and a world that I can't wait to share with my own children when they're old enough to understand and love the way you can fully immerse yourself into the world of a book.