I did not read The Hobbit until I was thirteen, which is rather late if you really stop to think about it. Nevertheless, reading Tolkien's classic at that point in my life proved to be exactly the right time for me. If I had read it earlier or later, I may not have been as engrossed in it as I had been then. I may not have appreciated it as much as I had at that point in time. I may not have gone on to read The Lord of Rings immediately afterward the way I had.
Well, you can imagine my joy when I noticed my son had begun to read his Christmas gift this past Saturday. In the most nonchalant tone I could muster, I casually asked him if he was enjoying the story. His eyes remained glued to the page and the only response I received was a quick nod. He's up to Chapter Seven now. When we went for our evening walk tonight, my little guy kept badgering me to tell him exactly what kind of creature Beorn is. Is he a bear? Is he a man? Is he some kind of bear-man? Rarely have I felt it so difficult to keep something to myself.
"Just keep reading; you'll find out."
As we continued our walk I did my best to remember the last time I had read The Hobbit. If memory serves me well, it was about twenty years ago. With the exception of some excerpt-reading here and there, I haven't touched any Tolkien in over a decade. After this realization, I immediately informed my son that I would start re-reading The Hobbit right away to better be able to discuss the book with him.
"I'll join you on your journey," I said as we turned the corner and headed for home.
I am immensely pleased that my little guy has embarked upon the Tolkien journey. After a long sojourn, I am continuing.
May our journey never end.
Note added: My son has also expressed an interest in reading The Hobbit in the original English once he hones his English reading skills a little more. Something tells me this will happen by summer at the very latest.