Learning to read in the first grade changed my life. What, you didn’t need another person to tell you a story? You could learn the magic code of written language and tell all the stories in the world to yourself?
My teacher even let us borrow her books, take one home each night to read over and over. I loved reading aloud to my younger sister and brother. Wow, could life ever get any better than that?
Yes, yes it could! I found out the next summer, after my mother had started working full-time.
Mama and Daddy left us with a sitter all day, Mrs. Murphy, who had six kids and lived within walking distance of downtown Dexter, Maine. One day a teenage Murphy took me with her to a place I’d never been before, a cozy little beige brick building called “the library.”
Abbott Memorial Library in Dexter Maine
I never knew before that a place could smell so enticing, like paper and ink, because it housed hundreds or thousands of books! And if you and your mother signed your names on piece of stiff paper called a “library card,” you could take ten of them home at a time! For a whole week!
Thus began my life as an avid reader, hauling armloads of books back and forth on our weekly visit to the library. Throughout my school years, I read every children’s and young adult book in every town and school library where I lived—which is saying quite a bit because we moved into three different school districts.
During my adolescent years, I read all the adult books I could get my eyes on too. I read one book every day during the school year, and up to three books a day during the summer. When I ran out of library books, I’d reread all my old favorite childhood paperbacks bought for twenty-five cents from the school book club or given as gifts by my grandmother, dog-eared copies of Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Charlotte’s Web, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and Queenie Peavy. I still enjoy rereading those, among others.
I loved reading and learning so much, I hated for any book to end and even for school to end. I stayed in school until there weren’t any more degrees to be had. Now I’m still in school as a college professor, and I have to read books every day for a living. I actually get paid to read! Life is good.
Would you like to see the different ways students sometimes look at children’s books in college classes? Visit Dr. Lisa’s Class at http://lisarowefraustino.com/?page_id=296 to read “The Cat in the Hat Goes to Graduate School.” Other class sessions can be found at http://lisarowefraustino.com/?page_id=249.
Thanks Lisa! I'm so glad you discovered libraries and how cool that you get paid to read now as an adult! What a fun job!
Check out the book trailer for Lisa's newest book, The Hole in the Wall.