I was brought up with books. We used jumble sales and summer fairs to feed my habit, and I visited the library every week. I had soon read the junior section of my local library and had to start visiting another library. I will always be grateful for the fact that no matter that we had no money (majority of clothes were second hand or sewed by Mother ReeRee) I always had access to books.
I was allowed to choose three books each night to have read to me, and I always choose the longest ones. One my happiest childhood memories was the tradition of our Christmas Eve reading sessions. I had a pile of Christmas themed books, and me and Mother ReeRee would read them every year. This continued even when our relationship was less than good for the rest of the year.
So, books have always been a massive part of my life. Eventually I became ReeRee the primary school teacher, working in inner city schools. I want all children to have the chance to feel the power of reading. So many children I met never saw adults choosing to read for pleasure. Many had never owned their own book. I can't change their lives, but in my classroom at least, I could give reading and books a high focus and priority. I have even read aloud to tough New York teenagers, many of whom would then beg me to continue the next evening. I have yet to meet a kid who didn't enjoy the feeling of being read to (if you have the skill of finding the right book!).
From teaching I became a secondary school librarian, again in a tough inner city school. It was no walk in the park but I was very proud of the space I created in the time I was there.
This library didn't exist before I arrived, and it will remain one of my most proud achievements for a long time. I arranged for the huge banner to be made, for the quotes about reading to be painted onto the walls, and basically everything you can see was down to me. It was an awesome opportunity, and the library was a fabulous space.
I loved seeing teens develop a taste for books, and I always chuckled when they seemed overawed with how many of the books I had read myself. I truely believe there is a book out there for everyone, some people just need a bit of help finding it.
I gave up my library to focus on Alternatively Lovely and Rockalily, but I do miss many aspects of that role. Hopefully one day I can get involved with getting kids to read again, but for now, my life has taken a different path.
I visited a new library today, and was reminded how I feel when I go to a library. I get a little buzzy feeling, wondering what books I may find. The wonder of being able to borrow brand new books for free, being able to give random books a go with no financial risk. I walked out this afternoon with ten books stuffed in my bag, a mixture of teen and adult fiction, as well as some non-fiction.
Our libraries are currently under threat. Cuts mean that libraries are being closed, schools are getting rid of librarians and books, and the remaining libraries may be staffed by volunteers. We need our libraries! They show the value we place on books and education - that it should be available to all, regardless of your income. I can't begin to imagine my childhood without a library, nor my adulthood. Visit your library, prove to people that they still have a place in our society.
I'm sure you can tell I am passionate about this - we can't let them close our public or school libraries.
I am always reminded of this quote:
You may have tangible wealth untold:
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be–
I had a Mother who read to me.
from “The Reading Mother” by Strickland Gillilan