Here we share a beautiful and inspiring letter to Roald Dahl, written by 12-year-old Zyk.
Written for an essay competition, Zyk's story about how Roald Dahl's books inspired him is thoughtfully written, honest and uplifting.
There once was a short, scrawny boy who had two loving mathematicians for parents and a smarter-than-he-was brother and sister for siblings. His parents treated him well, and cared very much for his education. But, despite that, he, as everyone does, still had problems.
The little boy always struggled when it came to writing. His siblings both made it into programs for gifted kids, while whenever that little boy tried to make it into an advanced class or into one of those fancy magnet-schools, his lack of ability when it came to the English language always failed him. He ended up being disheartened by the letters of rejection that he got back from each program. When the school he was attending ended up only taking in students who were “gifted”, he was excused from Elementary School. He had no choice but to go to a little Elementary School by his house. He was defined by others as ungifted at an early age.
During his years at Elementary School, despite all his friends calling him smart and the good grades he got, he didn’t think he was or ever would be intelligent, because a group of adults had the audacity to give labels to kids. Around this time, the boy’s father introduced him to your books. The boy was enchanted with your imagination. He became interested as to who was writing these books. In 5th grade, he read Boy: Tales of Childhood and Lucky Break-How I Became a Writer. From this, the boy discovered that the author he looked up to was once even worse a the English language than him. He realized that maybe, even someone like himself, could become a great writer.
That year, he miraculously made it into the “Honors” ELA program at Middle School. Since then, that boy has written many poems and has learned a great many things about the English language. Now, that very same boy wanted to thank you, Mr. Dahl, because, maybe the good things in life happened just out of luck, or maybe it was his natural urge to fight for the underdogs that drove him to prove that just maybe, they were wrong about him. Who knows, but it is also very possible, that it was the doing of your books.
Roald Dahl, it’s not that you and that little boy always getting into trouble with the headmasters of the boarding schools were different people. That same young you blossomed with ideas too, it’s just that, no one but you knew.
While the other boys slept at night, you stayed huddled under your blanket with a flashlight, inside your own world. In this paradise you changed the scenes and people of your everyday life into new worlds, unique characters, and ideas. You changed the Matron that ruled over the halls of the 11-12 year old boy dormitories with an iron fist into Mrs. Trunchbull. You transformed the memories of being a taste-tester for Cadbury’s Chocolate into the world of Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. You, who supposedly had no talent in the English language turned your life into stories and ideas with the words no one thought you could use.
Boy: Tales of Childhood and Lucky Break-How I Became a Writer have taught me to believe in myself with what little self-confidence I had, and from that point on, good things began to happen to me. This book taught me that writing wasn’t all about how well you spelled or whether you could use punctuation or capitalization. It taught me that no matter how well-spelled words are, it doesn’t matter unless they come alive and draw a picture in your mind. I found that in some situations, things are unteachable, but in others, things can be taught. It was because of Boy: Tales of Childhood and Lucky Break-How I Became a Writer that I realized that there was a possibility that this situation was the latter.
You too, had to wear the costume of everything that you weren’t, dubbed by your teachers as illiterate, and yet looking back, it turns out that they were wrong. Words can heal, yet they can also hurt, and I think that it is of the utmost importance that we do not let others define who or what we are with their painful words. You and your books are the embodiment of these words, for despite your instructors seemingly killing any chance of you becoming a writer with their words, you became what they thought you could never become, because you triumphed over the things others called you.
With a great many thanks,