This is my copy of The Lord of the Rings (illustrated by Alan Lee). I have read this book more times than I can count.
When I was in 8th grade, our reading/English teacher would separate the class into 'reading groups'. Each group got to choose a book based on reading level. My group chose the Hobbit. I fell in love.
That year I was hospitalized and had my appendix out. Today, I'd be in and out in a few hours but in the 1970's, you were in the hospital for a week. My English teacher came to the hospital and brought me the series to read so I wouldn't get bored. I read them all that week and then read them to tatters over the years. One year for Mother's Day, my girls gave me this book with the illustrations. It's beautiful and I read it every year or so. The movies are good but the beauty of Tolkien's words should be appreciated in their original format.
When Kate was learning to read, we read the Fellowship books to each other. I always believed kids learned better if their abilities were stretched just a bit and so all of my girls read books just a bit out of their reach. Of course, we read Harriet the Spy and The Borrowers and other classics but I wanted them to love Tolkien as much as I did. And they do.