In 3rd grade, I started getting poor marks in ‘Reading’; several months into the school year we took a series of standardized tests. My test results showed that I was reading at a ‘7.6’ (almost eighth grade) level and my teacher suggested to my parents that my poor marks were attributable to the fact that I was bored reading ‘children’s books’. With the aid of my teacher, my parents were able to get me an ‘adult’ library card.
So I went to the library and asked a librarian for suggestions - she went with me and pulled a book of short stories by Ray Bradbury from the shelf (it was either S is for Space or R is for Rocket - I forget which one now) and I took it home and read it in two days and went back for more…
I don’t read much science fiction these days but I’ve always said that had in not been for Ray Bradbury - and, later, science fiction in general - I would never have become the voracious reader that I am today.
A few years later, I wrote Ray Bradbury a letter - telling him that, were it not for him, I likely wouldn’t enjoy reading very much. He replied and sent me a copy of ‘The Halloween Tree’ which, at that time I think, was privately published (I lost the book at some point - the cover was a pen & ink drawing by Bradbury) and that just made me like him even more.
Those books were pure magic to me - not the science so much as the fiction. Small tales that seemed to be written with youth as a central theme. I re-read some of those books from time to time and am able to recall that magic and youth.