"I TOOK A LOOK---AT THE BOOK. THEN THE BOOK---TOOK A LOOK-BACK--- AT ME!"
Saturday after Saturday, they waited for me. Some were sitting high-above my head, while others lay quietly on their sides, near the floor. Several wore elaborate gold lettering and appeared older, more fragile. The ones with
aristocratic and noble features almost dared me to touch them….and I did.
As a young child without playmates, I spent most days living in a pretend-playtime world,
far-removed from everyday reality. Not yet old-enough to attend school, I often rode my bicycle on the gravel streets near our rent house just looking at pretty homes, animals, noticing flowers and wondering about life. Sometimes, because I preferred
to stay on-the-move, I strapped-on my metal skates and rolled up and down the sidewalks, pretending to “run away.”
It was shortly after I entered the First Grade
at Annunciation Academy that my very-small world erupted into a complete Universe. The day my first grade teacher handed me a public library card, bearing my name, was the very day life became an endless adventure.
Every Saturday morning, alone, I rode a city bus-across town- to the Library. In the beginning, I was satisfied to visit the children’s reading room and explore its many shelves of-mostly-picture books. As a fast reader,
it didn’t take long to discover my need for fewer pictures and more words.
Because of my height and confident appearance, most everyone assumed I was older.
I walked past the librarians and their check-out desk without hesitating...to enter the endless shelves of adult reading.
I loved the classics best, with such authors
as Bronte (Jane Eyre), Cervantes (Don Quixote) Edgar Allan Poe, Rudyard Kipling, and Sir Walter Scott (Ivanhoe). There were times when I plowed through Shakespeare and other times when I relaxed to enjoy Louisa Mae Alcott and her Little Women, but…
nothing touched my heart like Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Even the movie version was a classic I watched numerous times.
Today, libraries everywhere
are struggling to survive; to be viewed as relevant; to exist for day-dreamers, lovers of books, and seekers of silence. Books are no longer valued by the young, the restless, and-most importantly-the uneducated. Supposedly….technology cancels
the need for dictionaries, encyclopedias, because it answers every possible question. I'm offended by many in this generation who state: “Why read a book when you have reality television or dimensional movies, or online
games. If you feel the need to find something in a book, look for it as a kindle version, scan the part or parts you need, and move on. Life's too short to read a book from cover to cover and, besides, real books take up too much space.”
It's been my experience that technology is a poor substitute for the real-deal. Modern devices can’t replace the feel of a book,the smell of a book's oldness
or newness, or the sound of a book's pages being turned, one page at a time. You can pick up a book, read awhile, then put it aside. It patiently waits for your return, always ready to start-over-again.
Oh, how I treasure books! There’s something magical about opening a book from long ago, flipping through its pages, then returning to page one to read page after page until.. the end.
As a child, lost and alone, the library found me. It introduced me to people, families, adventure; it took me across oceans, into jungles, and to mountain tops with far-away castles.
But, most valuable of all, the library books taught me about life. Books showed me how to love and to value others, including myself. Every time I read a book,
I become better-educated, more knowledgeable.