things i heard at the library: an occasional series: #19

A mother and her young son enter the library, returning a big stack of books for beginning readers. A conversation is already in progress. Imagine this in a voice - no, a whine - of pure sadness.

"But why do I have to return it?"

"Because it's not yours. It belongs to the library."

"But it's the best book ever."

I hustled over. I assured him he could take it out again, as long as no one was waiting for it. "Can I please see the book?" He reluctantly handed it over, near tears.

It was an easy reader with lovely Eric Carle-esque illustrations... a nonfiction book about spiders! I renewed for him. "Here you go." His face lit up.

Mom said, "You will have to return it eventually, you know."

Boy: "But whyyyyyy?"

Mom: "Because it belongs to the library."

Me: "I bet I could find other books that you would love just as much."

He looked very skeptical. "This is the best book ever."


Lorne said...

I like the story very much. That kind of enthusiasm is something so few of us carry over into later life. That being said, I can't imagine my life without books (most of which are from the library!).

laura k said...

I guess I'm really lucky. I'm like that (without the whining) all the time.

Amy said...

Damn, I would have wanted to go out and buy him a copy! I am involved in a program called Links to Libraries. I go to a class in one of the Springfield schools once a month (two classes so twice a month for me), read them a book and talk about it, and then each child gets a free book each time. I started last year when I retired. It's the best thing I am doing in retirement. I am so happy that (1) these children love being read to and are really engaged and asking good questions, and (2) that they are REALLY excited to get a book. I was afraid they'd be indifferent---preferring toys or candy or something. But these children are really happy to own a book! Gives me hope for the future.

laura k said...

Amy, what a wonderful project! And yes, children get VERY excited about books.

In Toronto there's something called the Children's Book Bank, where kids from low-income neighbourhoods/families can attend a storytime, then choose books to take home and keep.

When I was in library school, we did some book drives and fundraisers for them. Their all-volunteer staff are usually unemployed library students and graduates.

So what grade are you reading to, and what are some of the books you've read?

Amy said...

I am reading to one class of third graders and one class of fourth graders. I don't have the books with me at the moment (I am in Wellfleet), but some are The Three Questions (based on a Tolstoy story), Too Many Tamales, Li ? and the Lantern (sorry, can't remember exactly), Tar Beach, a book about a slave who escapes in a box (forgot the title), and Thank You, Mr. ? about a girl with dyslexia. I will send you a more accurate list when I get home. They are great books---lots of diversity of characters, lots of boy stories and girl stories, some fiction, some non-fiction. The program has a consultant who selects the books.

The books the children receive are different---chapter books like the Ramona books, Boxcar Children, some mysteries, some scary books, some animal stories, etc.

It's an all volunteer program started by one of my neighbors. There are now lots of corporate backers giving backs and thousands of books distributed to inner city children in Springfield and Holyoke.

Amy said...

Here's a link to the program. http://www.linktolibraries.org/

laura k said...

Thanks! Many of those are famous children's books, especially Tar Beach, a modern classic.

I realized that we do have a somewhat similar program here called First Book Canada. In our library, storytimes are conducted strictly by our unionized staff, but the book giveaway piece is something that could be added on.