Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Guest Post: Tami Lewis Brown

Please welcome Tami Lewis Brown to GreenBeanTeenQueen!


Tami is the author of the middle grade novel, The Map of Me.



Tami has a great post about libraries that warms my heart! I hope you love it too!

Why I Read Dangerously—or How the Sidney Eline Library Saved My Life

The motto on my website says READ DANGEROUSLY. It’s a directive I take seriously—both as a reader and a writer. Read with open eyes and an open mind. Seek out new writers, new genres, new ideas. Read to foster life long learning. For me reading dangerously isn’t about reading books with “bad language” or drugs or promiscuous behavior. It’s REAL danger. It’s reading books that make you think.

But I wasn’t always an adventurous reader. In fact, the odds were against me being any kind of reader at all. Decoding came hard. By second grade I was barely keeping pace with Dick and Jane and the Sparrows reading group while the Bluebirds and Cardinals soared into chapter books.



No one in my family was an enthusiastic reader and we didn’t have lots of books at home. I remember one battered volume of Childcraft nursery rhymes in our house—not exactly dangerous reading.

What we did have, just a few miles away, was the children’s department of the Sidney Eline Public Library. And their impressive display of novels with shiny gold and silver stickers on the front. I wasn’t exactly sure what those stickers meant except that it was something good. And these books, even the picture books, weren’t for babies. No “See Spot run” in the shiny sticker books.

Look out Cardinal reading group! I was hooked. Then and there I decided I was a reader and believing in a thing is more than half of making it happen.

Soon I read about a silver maker’s apprentice, a wild Wisconsin tomboy, and my favorite, a brother and sister who run away to a museum in a city that fueled all my dreams. I didn’t love them all. Sailing around the Pacific on a little handmade boat? Boring. And so I learned to rely on my own taste and judgment, valuing my own opinions and back them up with reasons.

Maybe these books, classics now, don’t seem “dangerous” but they showed me there are other ways of thinking and living. I may have been only eight or nine but the books in the Eline Library Children’s Department introduced me to the life of the mind. They made me a person who asks questions and doesn’t expect easy answers. A person who’s willing to wait and savor to reach the end. A person who knows the obvious solution isn’t necessarily the right one.

So why do I write for children? If my books lure just one child into one library, opening their eyes to the possibilities, I will have accomplished more than any “adult” writer who crafts pretty phrases or twisted plots. I will have passed the love of books to the next generation. What could be more deliciously dangerous?

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