I don’t remember learning how to read. I’ve always read anything I could get my hands on. It’s something that I’ve always been able to do. I’m sure someone taught me at some point, more than likely my older brothers. They were also showing me how to do things for myself, so they’d not have to help me anymore.
I can remember watching my brothers leave for school and wishing I could go with them. I would beg them to play Bus Driver or School with me when they were home. My oldest brother, Ed, would usually comply with my demands. He would make my other brother, Cliff, play with us. Ed would be the “teacher” and Cliff and I would be the “students.” We even lived by a car scrapyard at one time, and Ed found a bus we could sneak into. Ed of course was always the “Bus Driver,” while Cliff and I were always the “students.” I never cared, I was just glad to be pretending to go to school like my big brothers. Ed taught me my ABC’s and how to count money. Cliff taught me to spell my full name and to write sentences, which I’d have to do before he would play anything with me. They both taught me which colors were which, they got tired of telling me what the crayons were when we colored.
I started school 2 weeks before my 6 birthday, due to a law that said I had to be 5 before a certain date to attend kindergarten. My birthday was 2 weeks to late, according to laws. I was so excited to be finally starting school! The first day, I couldn’t wait for my parents to leave and kept telling them to go. After school was out, my parents asked me what my favorite part if school was and I told them that storytime was, but wished the teacher would let me read my own books.
It wasn’t until 1st grade that I had access to a classroom library. After 35 years, I’ve forgotten the teacher’s name, but I will always remember the feeling that came over me when she showed me the book section of the room.
When she took my hand and lead me to a corner of the room she had separated from the rest of the class with shelves. On these shelves was row upon row of books. Hundreds upon hundreds, it seemed to my small self. She told me that I could take books home to read, if I wanted to. I asked her how many I could borrow at a time. 2, but as soon as I returned them, I could get 2 more was the last thing I heard her say that morning.
I was in heaven! I immediately checked out 2. They were Fun With Dick and Jane & a Baby Bear book. I finished them in 2 days. I brought them back a few days later, and picked 2 more. It wasn’t long before I was reading 2 a day. An addiction was started.
One day, my teacher gave me a note to take home to my Mom. Mom was at work when I got home in the evenings, so I opened the note to see if I’d done something wrong. Teachers only sent notes home whenever a student was acting up, or so I thought. The note was actually just asking my mother if I was really reading the books I brought home, or if I was actually just looking at the pictures. When I gave my Mom the note, she just laughed, and wrote back that she assumed that I was, since I asked what a few words were and went back to reading in my room. Nothing was ever said again about my reading. All my teachers from then on just seemed to encourage me more.
I went to my first public library in the 4th grade. We’d moved to a new town and my sisters and me were exploring the town closest to our neighborhood. This was when it was a lot safer for kids to roam the neighborhood, of course.
We’d found the Town Square with a pizzeria and a doughnut shop, which was awesome, I’ll admit, what kid wouldn’t think it was awesome. All this was dulled for me, for soon on our little wandering search, I noticed a sign about a block off from the Square. On this sign was an open book.
My sisters weren’t interested in finding out what the sign meant, but I couldn’t get it out of my head. Soon, I wandered away from them and found myself at the building the sign was in front of. PUBLIC LIBRARY. I was intrigued. I knew what it was, but I always had enough books to read before, either from the classroom or my own little horde of books. Now that I was getting bigger, I wanted more. I wanted bigger kids books.
I went into the library. It had shelves everywhere. There was at least a thousand books on the shelves. A couple of older women ran the library, and one of them helped me get a library card so that I could check out books. She showed me how to use a card catalogue (for you readers born to late to know, this was how we googled back then), and set me free. In wonder, I explored as much as I could. I perused books while sitting at a table, looking for just the right one that I just had to take home to read. I stayed until dinner time, and left reluctantly.
Every since then, I’ve never felt truly at home in a new location until I found the library in whatever new town I was living in. The library has taken me places I could never go. Each book is a door to another world to me.
Every time I checked out a book, I would be completely immersed in the story. I’ve gone on magic carpet rides, sailed the Seven Seas, explored the jungles and lived in manor houses. I lived the books and breathed the plots. I suffered when the main characters suffered and feasted when they celebrated. Books have made me feel fear, made me cry and made me laugh.
Too me there is nothing better than exploring library shelves. It’s like a treasure hunt and you never know what you will find. There’s knowledge, love, and adventure on every shelf. There’s books that give you a peek into the life of famous people. Books that tell you how things work. Rows and rows of books of poetry. Hundreds of books from someone’s imagination. Books for everyone.
Modern libraries of today have so much more to offer. Not only do the have books, but they have newspapers, magazines, and audio books. There’s computers, tablets and internet connection. Most have activities for children. others even offer little workshops that are fun and informative.The local library near me has even partnered with the Conservation Department in our area and they offer fishing poles and gear for kids to check out! You just don’t know what your local public library has to offer the community, until you visit it on a regular basis.
The gift of a library card is perfect for people of all ages. Libraries have so much to offer to the people who live in a community. Someone who has a library card has a passport to other worlds. By visiting the shelves of a library, they will find the access to these worlds. All one has to do is open up a book to be taken to the shores of this new world. You can stay in these worlds as long as you want. Traveling between these worlds is easy, the doorway closes when you close the book. Some worlds stay in your mind longer, and you’ll find yourself returning as often as you can. With a library card, ones imagination can travel through many possibilities.
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