Reading Takes You Places
I love sharing this story with my students. In the summer of 2014, I decided to catch up on some classic #YAbooks. Having always wanted to read Lois Lowry’s novel, The Giver, I was about half way through the book when I came across a post on Taylor Swift’s Instagram account. In it, she detailed the specifics of a photo contest where all that was necessary was to take a selfie of yourself reading The Giver. The Grand Prize winner would win an overnight trip to NYC to see the movie premiere - in which Taylor herself makes a cameo appearance! The lucky winner and a guest would also get to walk the Red Carpet of this star studded event! So, I snapped a photo, sent it to the website and wished myself good luck.
Knowing that the movie premiere was slated for August 11, I guess I gave up hope of being chosen when August rolled around. After all, the contest rules clearly stated that the contest winner would be announced by the first of the month. My daughters and I simply made plans to see the movie in our local theater once it was released nationwide. But those plans drastically changed that Sunday night.
I still can’t say what prompted me to check my email that night, but when I did it took my brain a couple of seconds to process the following words: “Hey Christina, has anyone contacted you about the selfies Giver contest?” My heart was a hammer inside my chest. My hands trembled as I replied that NO, I had not heard anything, but asked if it meant I was about to receive good news. After we had exchanged several emails, I started running around the house screaming because I had indeed WON the contest! And thanks to my loving husband, this is the 'selfie' that took first prize...
I don’t remember much about the limo ride into NYC, but I can vividly recall the moment my 14 year old twin daughters and I arrived at the theater. Paparazzi flashed their cameras. Fans were lined up on the sidewalks and when we stepped out of the car, for a brief instant, the three of us felt like celebrities. With hearts pounding we got our tickets and pretended that we belonged there in the company of so many famous people. The event was every bit as amazing as you might imagine. Celebrities made their way past us inside the theater. We could hear the conversation of the well-known Youtubers seated behind us, and tried our best not to look like the gawking fans we really were. Because I was sitting at the end of the aisle, I was able to whisper a silly sentiment to one of my favorite bands as One Republic made their way past us to sing one of their featured songs for the movie!
I wish I could say that the highlight of my night was actually getting to meet Taylor Swift, Meryl Streep, Lois Lowry, Jeff Bridges or Ryan Tedder. Sadly, that never happened. To this day, I’m not allowed to speak of what transpired later that night after the movie premier ended. References to these after party passes (that we never used) remain a definite source of regret on my part...
Despite not having actually met any of the celebrities at the event, I’m SO grateful that I decided to read The Giver that summer. Not only was it a great book, but now I can honestly tell my students that reading really does take you places!