The Books Under My Pillow

Posted September 29, 2017 by Amber in Memes / 18 Comments


When you were a kid, did you ever fall asleep reading a book?  Ever tuck a good book under your pillow to sneak out and read after your parents out you to bed?  I did, and that’s what today’s Book Blogger Hop is all about.

When I was a little girl, my family lived in a small house in a rural community.  We were poor, I’ll just come right out and say it.  My parents did their best, but there were certainly times that we struggled to make ends meet.  I was the princess of hand-me-down clothes, fed through the kindness of soup kitchens, for a few of those years.  It’s nothing to be ashamed of.  Times were hard, and like I said, my parents did their best.

Up until high school, I shared a room with my little brother.  As such, the lights-out policy was pretty strict.  Even if I was older, I couldn’t keep the lights on and bother my brother, who was little and needed to sleep.  So, when I went to bed, there wasn’t much to do but stare at the ceiling (top bunk ftw!) and use my imagination.  And that got boring fast.

By the time I hit middle school, something needed to change.  First of all, my strict bedtime was way earlier than all my friends, and like all children’s opinions of curfews – it was completely unfair.  Add to that the fact that my parents liked to send me to bed early as a punishment, I spent a lot of time in my room.  Also, anti-perks of the top bunk?  You can’t exactly stow something under the bed and pull it out later.  My brother was under my bed, and he was a tattle-tale.

The answer came in the form of a birthday party favor: a pen light.

I knew this was useful the moment I saw it.  A flashlight that fit in my pocket.  Awesome.

The idea of stowing it in my pillowcase came later.  I was rereading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and doing things that upset my parents, such as:  not practicing my clarinet, not going outside to play, and definitely not dusting the house.  After spending the evening being perfectly defiant (it’s a gift) I was shooed off to bed.  When my parents sent us to bed as a punishment, they checked to make sure you are IN BED and LIGHTS OUT.  Yes, I was eleven, but you must remember that this was almost 20 years ago and parents were scary back then.  So I was in bed, BORED, and adequately annoyed.


I dared it.

I climbed down off my bunk bed (eliciting minimal squeaks… that thing was NOISY) and fetched the two items from my desk drawer and bookshelf, respectively.  I stowed my treasures in my pillowcase, and in the little space between my mattress and the bed frame.

Prisoner of Azkaban lived in that bed for the next three years.  I read it over and over and over again, never tiring of it and never braving another book in its place when this one fit so perfectly.  When the pen light died, I started using those illuminating pens… the ones that lit up when you pushed down on the tip?  Those were pretty cool for a while.  I have the pen marks in my copy of Prisoner to prove it happened.

For years I thought I was clever.  When my family finally moved to a bigger house, the charade was no longer necessary. Prisoner of Azkaban returned to its cozy place on my bookshelf, and I felt quite pleased I’d avoided detection for so long.

Naturally, a few years ago at Thanksgiving when I proclaimed my childish defiance, I was told the bitter truth:  they had known all along.

The Book Blogger Hop is a weekly get-together hosted by Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer.  Weekly prompts encourage discussion in the bookish community.


What books did you fall asleep reading as a child?  Were there many different ones?  Let me know in the comments!

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18 responses to “The Books Under My Pillow

  1. Oh, what a GREAT story!! And the fact that your parents knew all along, yet didn’t say anything, is just WONDERFUL!! It was also very sweet of them to “be in the dark”, lol. They didn’t want to discourage your reading. And I think that the BEST reading we’ve done in our lives is the one under the covers, with a small light.

    You have a FABULOUS writing style, by the way! I really enjoyed reading this little story! Have you ever thought of writing fiction (or nonfiction, for that matter)?

    Thanks for sharing this childhood memory with us! Happy Friday!! <3 : )

    • Amber

      You’re so sweet to say so, about the writing. 🙂 I write constantly – non-fiction mostly ends up on the blog, and I dally with fictional works as well. I actually post little ficlets based on a writing challenge every Sunday. They’re sort of hit or miss, depending on the prompt and where I’m writing (distractions… 🙁 ) but I think they’re quite a bit of fun and I enjoy them!

  2. Parents are more observant than we think. 😉 I remember blocking the light from coming out of my room by placing a blanket at the foot of my bedroom door so I could read after bedtime. I didn’t think about the light coming out of other parts of the door . . .

  3. I have already left you a comment regarding your wonderful answer, but perhaps because you have a WordPress blog, and that was the first time I commented, my comment has to be moderated. Anyway, just letting you know! Thanks for sharing your GREAT story!! <3 : )

    • Amber

      Hi Maria, no worries – I go through my pending comments every day as long as I am online. :). I just wasn’t online yesterday evening! Thank you for the notification, though, and I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  4. Aw, I love this story! (Especially the twist at the end.) I’m still a teen, but when I was younger I used to read books late into the night by flashlight. Now I’m a bit smarter and just stay up reading with actual lights (when I’m supposed to be asleep… but at least I won’t get yelled at for damaging my eyes, right?!). This is such a nostalgic way to think of PoA haha!

    • Amber

      I think reading books by flashlight is a sort of nostalgic rite-of-passage for bookish younglings. Once we’re a bit older, we do smarten up a smidge!

  5. I love this post! I can totally relate with you – I was exactly the same when I was younger. Instead of a pen light I would use this tiny light thing I had received at school. I remember being very distraught when the tiny light stopped working (but I did manage to find a new one somehow!) I was also given the top bunk, although I actually liked it better than being at the bottom, it gave me more privacy to read. I always made sure to put the book back in its place before sleeping, these days I leave it on the desk beside my bed.

    • Amber

      Yes, as we grow older “in reach of the bed but not on it” seems to be where books end up! 🙂 I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought she was sneaky with a small light!

    • Amber

      Aww, that’s a beautiful thought. <3 I really like that. I don't know that I've ever dreamt about a book. Although I think I've dreamed of Hermione joining me in some sort of chaotic dream adventure....

      • Danielle

        Thanks!! I meant like that, like dreaming about the characters and what you think will happen next. Although, adventuring with Hermione, Ron and Harry would be a lot of fun lol.