I don’t know about you, but I love books. And I think most of us can recall when a book literally changed us in one way or another. This is part of my “book story.” There are so many, but 2 stand out for me in particular.
Believe it or not I didn’t grow up with books as a small child. I don’t remember ever having much in the way of reading materials around the house when I was super small. We were definitely what most would consider poor. Not that any of that mattered to me because I was happy, healthy, and didn’t know any different. As you can imagine, books weren’t high on the purchase lists. Though, I clearly remember my dad reading the newspaper every single day after work. Not particularly a good source of reading material for a Kindergartener though and I wasn’t much interested.
I do vaguely recall one year, I was gifted by someone (I couldn’t tell you whether it was from a grandparent or a family friend) a book club and I received a hardcover book every month that had a zebra in a city as a character. I have no idea what the series was called and can’t find it to this day, so if someone else knows, I would gladly pay you your weight in gold to figure it out.
Now, we did make bi-weekly trip to the library in our small village. Yes, our town was so small, it was classified as a village. And since my dad took the only car we had to work everyday, we couldn’t go much farther than where we could walk. The tiny library was about the size of a classroom, if that, with books piled high to the top of the ceiling. We could borrow from the main branch of the library, but this was before computers, so if you could find it in the card catalog, they had to call on a regular phone and request it to be mailed over. It usually took about a week to show up. We didn’t really use that option.
When I was in 5th grade, I received a BOOK as a Christmas gift from my teacher, Mrs. Kosan. I still have that book to this day. I was, and still am, mesmerized by it. It opened my world to a place where people actually gave books as gifts and they could keep them? I started looking at books in a completely different way. I would save my allowance just so I could buy one book from the next book order.
From that point on, I started reading pretty much anything I could get my hands on. It was a new experience to read about characters on faraway journeys and overcoming amazing odds no matter what the problem. I don’t think I did much non-fiction reading (though that is pretty much all I prefer to read now which is an interesting twist).
Soon after, we moved 2 towns over and now I was in the exact opposite place where I had started. We bought a house in a very affluent town, and in order to buy such a house, my grandparents lived with us as well. My bedroom was actually an open loft with no walls or doors. No that it mattered. Again – I don’t believe I knew any different. Nor cared.
But, I did notice the whispers and snickers when I would go to school in my Kmart clothes, while the other girls were wearing designer clothes and shoes. It was a culture shock to say the least. It was here where I learned about cliques. I don’t think that is a bad thing to learn by the way. I was probably lucky I had been sheltered from it that long. At our new house, we were 2 blocks away from the library (which was HUGE compared to my one-room village library) so I bet you can guess where I was after school every day.
It was here where I started to check out the teen reading selections. I was finished with the “baby books.” I fell in love with the Sweet Valley High book series. LOL! It seems silly now, but I devoured every book in that series! I was enthralled with the twins who lived life while driving around in a red convertible. In a sense, I was trying to figure out how the other students in my school lived. They really were driving around in the red convertibles and even had VCRs – in their BEDROOMS! (This is the mid-80s you know. We still had to get up and turn on the TV so a VCR was crazy talk.) But, the point is that those books helped me try to understand a world that was foreign to me. If nothing else, they opened up the possibility of people living differently.
As a side note: I just ordered 55 books (above picture) from the SWH series as a starting point for a full collection. Just thinking about them makes me want to have my own copies – yellowed pages and all. They were such an important part of my life that I want to revisit them again from time to time in my own library today (picture below – a bit of a mess because my little one LOVES to look through the books as much as I do.)
Wrapping up (sorry this is so long today):
Books CAN make a difference in anyone at anytime. As children, we can use books to make sense of situations we struggle with. It continues as adults too, but maybe it is because my experience with books as a child really helped to shape my view of the world more than it does as an adult.
I would love to hear your “Book Story!” Feel free to leave a comment about a book or book series that is special to you and why.
Enjoy and happy reading!