I fell in love with reading when my mother handed me one of her favorite books, “Henry Huggins” by Beverly Cleary. My first chapter book, it was a red hardback and I was in second grade. I quickly got acquainted with Ramona, Beezus and Ribsy, then on to other series. Sometimes I would sit at my desk during indoor recess and while children around me played, I’d be deep into “The Boxcar Children”. I devoured so many books each week that I remember being slightly embarrassed at borrowing six chapter books at a time (the limit) at the public library, especially when the librarian raised an eyebrow.
If I were to close my eyes and imagine a happy place during my childhood, one place would be the public library’s Children’s Room, smelling sweetly of books, softly carpeted, quiet except for the bang-click of books being checked out.
Fast forward 25+ years when I was a new mom with a tiny baby in a Baby Bjorn, lonely because I didn’t know other young mothers in town. During the week when my husband and neighbors and friends were at work, I filled the time with walking the baby into our small center of town, eager for any adult conversation and human contact.
One day I walked into the branch library, only open a few days a week during random hours, not a great selection of books, but a cute little haven. Babies are great conversation starters and slowly but surely, I became friendly with the librarians. Then I discovered I could “order” books through the library network, much like Amazon, but free. Each week, I find a reason to get to the branch library, even if there is nothing waiting for me at the desk. It’s a ritual to see my friends and the volunteers and just browse around. This winter, while prepping for another Nor’easter, I ran to the grocery store, drug store and to the library. Who wants to be stuck in a storm without something good to read?
Now my baby that was in a Baby Bjorn is in second grade and Harry Potter has ignited her love of reading. My just-turned-five-years-old son is proud to now have a library card of his own, even though he has a tendency to (*cringing*) borrow DVDs and no books.
While we are on vacation at the beach this summer, I am sure to find a reason to pop into the local library and find a story hour for a rainy day. Just another home away from home.