“The stories we love best do live in us forever…”
A tale to warm your heart on a cold winter’s day:*
Little Juniper was born weighing only 20 ounces and the odds were against her. Watching her tiny baby struggle to survive in her incubator, Kelley struggled to stay hopeful. Then her husband Tom pulled out a dog-eared book and began reading to his tiny daughter. The book? Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone — the same copy that he and Kelley had shared with his two sons as they were growing up. When Kelley wondered aloud whether what Tom was doing made any sense, Tom said, “A story is a promise. It’s a promise that the end is worth waiting for.”
So Tom began reading at Chapter One, The Boy Who Lived.” In the weeks that followed, as he read page after page of six volumes of Harry Potter to little Juniper, a miracle occurred. Hearing the rhythm of the words and the joy in her dad’s voice as he read, tiny Juniper tugged at her tubes. And amazingly, her oxygen levels and heart rate rose. When Tom stopped, they plummeted. “Keep reading!” the nurses urged him.
So Tom and Kelley did. Hearing is one of the first senses to develop and listening to her mom and dad’s voices telling a magical tale of broomsticks and wizards, friendship and love seemed to give Juniper strength. Slowly, she began to grow. Six months later, Tom and Kelley took their baby home, where she thrived. When she was old enough to play
dress-up, it was always as Hermoine. “I see Hermoine in my dreams!” Juniper would say.
Then one summer, a mysterious box arrived in the mail. It was a special set of British Harry Potter books. The inscription read, “To Juniper, The Girl Who Lived! With lots of love, J.K. Rowling.” Later Juniper would send the author a copy of the book that her parents wrote: Juniper: The Girl Who Was Born Too Soon.
Today, Juniper is a healthy kindergartner who loves ballet, gymnastics, and make believe.
And no wonder! “We will never stop believing that Juniper is here because of her wonderful medical care, because of grace and because of Harry Potter,” says Kelley.
Time and again we hear about the magical powers of reading aloud to children — how the rhythm of words, a loving voice, and fabulous imagery can all help young minds grow and develop. Just imagine if mothers and dads everywhere were reading books to their children — stories of courage, adventure, love and hope. We live in a magical world just waiting to be discovered and we are the wizards of the word. Write on!
* This lovely story comes to us via Woman’s World (February 20, 2017).