by Roald Dahl
Matilda Chapter 1 Summary
The Reader of Books
- The book begins with the narrator talking generally about how most parents think their own kids are the best things since sliced bread.
- See, the problem is, not all children can be the best thing since sliced bread. In fact, a lot of them are jerks in real life, and our narrator doesn't like that at all.
- Then the narrator starts talking about parents who are totally different: the Wormwoods, who don't think there's anything special about their children, Michael and Matilda.
- In fact, they don't give Matilda the time of day.
- But if any kid ever deserved a parent's special attention, it's Matilda. She is, in a word, awesome.
- But the more Matilda achieves, the more annoying her parents think she is. She's a child prodigy, but they think she's a pain in the butt.
- (The Wormwoods are not the smartest of people.)
- Matilda teaches herself to read and wants to read more, even though her parents just want to watch TV.
- On weekdays her parents leave her alone for a while, even though she's super little, so she up and goes to the library on her own. She's just four, by the way.
- The librarian, Mrs. Phelps, helps her pick out books. First Matilda reads all the kids' books. Then she asks Mrs. Phelps to pick out something else for her.
- That's when Mrs. Phelps realizes Matilda's special.
- So while the librarian treats Matilda like she's normal, she gives her highly advanced books to read. To start? Great Expectations.
- Score! Matilda reads her first Dickens book—no sweat. She asks for more.
- So Mrs. Phelps builds her a reading list, and teaches her about the importance of reading.
- Along the way, Mrs. Phelps realizes that Matilda's parents are just the worst, but she doesn't really do anything to interfere in Matilda's family life.
- After Matilda has read several books way above her age level, Mrs. Phelps gets her a library card.
- That means less visits to the library for Matilda, but she's reading just as much.
- She takes the books home, makes herself cozy, warm drinks (even though she's basically too small to use her family's stove), and reads every afternoon in peace.
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