Right now the class I am taking is a children's literature course in the library science department. I love it. I loved reading as a kid. I still love to read, though I don't do so as much as I'd like to. One of my assignments is to observe a children's story hour and then plan and execute one. This will be easy. Yesterday, for my observation, I returned to the elementary school Diana and Calypso went through and Isaac had 2 years at before we moved. It is a wonderful, tiny neighborhood school that now only goes to 2nd grade. All the staff know every single kid by name and there is such a wonderful sense of community there. I spent endless hours volunteering there when my kids attended and loved it. I did bunches of story hours.
I caught up with the librarian and other staff there and was welcomed back so warmly. The secretary offered me everyone's schedule and told me to go catch this one or that one before they have class because they will want to see me again. That made me feel just great.
In the library I did my observation and afterwards caught up with the librarian. There is a new brand new school in the district and we had both gone to help inventory and help set up the new library. Maybe it is a geeky trait peculiar to librarians and librarian wanna-bes but we both agreed that it was REALLY an exciting thing to get to see rows and rows of shelves of brand new, shiny library books. We both admitted having great difficulty doing mere inventory when we'd come across a book that seemed especially interesting. Running our hands up and down the spines, feeling the pages release to us as we parted them the first time, deeply inhaling the aroma of a virginal book......it's all so thrilling!
It made me think back to the first 'grown-up' book I selected and bought myself. I was 7. My family was on vacation at the New Jersey shore and we were going in and out the souvenir stores on the boardwalk. My brother and I had each been given an amount of money we could spend on whatever souvenir we wanted. Nothing in any of the shops caught me eye enough to make me want to part with the money. Then I saw a book store. I went in and saw shelves and tables crammed with books. My little heart quickened. I spent a very long time looking. I was a bit annoyed with a clerk who tried to direct me to picture books and informed him that I was a fine reader who could manage chapter books with no pictures. It was such a hard decision though. I was used to going to the library and borrowing books but now I got to pick one I could keep forever. I kept looking but something kept drawing me back to the biographies. I read blurb after blurb on cover after cover and finally one lept out at me......the true story of how Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller together showed the world a blind and deaf child could learn and succeed......I was hooked. I carried it happily to the counter and paid for it. I devoured it quickly and reread it several more times. I was so proud of my little book and I was so amazed by Helen and Anne. Ever since then I have been drawn to biographies. I went into special education, now I am considering becoming a librarian. Lots of other experiences have shaped me but I think about that one little book sometimes and how much impact it had. I think how wonderful it is to put a book in a kid's hands, one that makes their face light up, one that impacts them positively for a long time.
So, tell me about the first book you remember or one that still impacts you.