Thursday, July 5, 2007

The Sweet Serenity of Books

Stacy, at Exceedingly Mundane (don't you just love that blog title?), hosts a Question of the Day. Today her question was about libraries. Do you visit your local library, have a card, and what is your involvment? I loved this question, because it took me on a trip down memory lane. When I was growing up, the local library was one of my favorite places, especially in the summer. My brothers and friends and I would ride our bikes there, and it was always so refreshing to arrive at the cool, brick building after a ride on the hot, asphalt streets of our neighborhood. We would sit on the floor in the aisles between the book stacks, reading and sorting through our choices. We always signed up for the Summer Reading Program, which consisted of reading 30 books (series books such as Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys didn't qualify -- a smart move by the librarian to get the kids to broaden their horizons a bit.) When we read our 30 books, we were rewarded with a gift certificate and an American Flag -- one of those on a stick with the gold point on the end. We thought it was just the cat's meow. This morning, I took my daughter to our local library -- same library that I went to as a kid, but it is now in it's third building and about 90 times bigger. She is in the Summer Reading Program, which has a "sleuthing" theme this year. Today, she'll learn about finger printing, decoding and following clues. When she finishes reading her 30 books, or 30 hours of reading, she gets an ice cream party and a free book. And for every 10 in between, she'll get a certificate for a kids' meal at Chic Filet or free bowling pass. Just for signing up, she gets a book mark, and a coupon for an Icee. The Children's Room was full of kids and parents, looking through the stacks of books, then heading for the "reading area", which has been beautifully decorated with a mural of a forest, filled with stuffed chairs of different primary colors, and inhabited by large stuffed animals representing the forest. I find myself thinking about Meg Ryan's character in "You've Got Mail." Her quaint little book store is being replaced by a huge chain book store, and she is so prepared to hate it. Yet, when she walks into the children's section, so much larger and fancier than what her store had to offer, she realizes that although the environment is so different, people's love of books is still the same. Perhaps our libraries have to be fancier and jazzed up, to attract kids who are used to seeing their stories animated on a TV or computer. And, I have to say, it's a lot more comfy sitting in those colored overstuffed chairs than on the hard floor between the stacks of books -- although I still find myself sliding down to the floor, just to browse a book or to nestle beside my daugher and read over her shoulder. Following on the 4th of July -- is there anything more American than a library? Where you can go for free to read books that are free and, for the most part, uncensored? And finally, Charles Elliott says it well: Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers. And P.J. O'Rourke, gives the reader this wise advice: Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it. Happy reading!

13 comments:

MyUtopia said...

My library is closed for construction until August. I do not have a library card but hope to get one in August.

Karen said...

We love our little local library here, as well. I find myself going back way before the books are due back, just because!
Hope you had a wonderful 4th!

Joyful Days said...

Oh what a lovely post!! We love our library. It is rather large and has a large staff--but I am well known by several librarians--they just head for my hold shelf when they see me coming!! When I was in 6th grade we lived in a town with a very small library. But I found wonderful books to read. That was the summer of the Betsy & Tacy books among many others.

You really have my memories rolling with this. Love it!

Joe said...

I love the library. You for got to mention that you son helps plan the reading program every year! Meg Ryan is the best in that movie! It's one of my favorites! I just saw WHEN HARRY MET SALLY the night before last and it was amazing! Have you seen it?

Tristi Pinkston said...

I am richly blessed right now -- we just moved into Orem, Utah, and we're told that the Orem library is one of the largest in the state. Go us!! My library card is one of my dearest possessions. It sits in my purse with my drivers license and my Blockbuster card and they are all smokin'.

KC said...

My kids love the library. This summer they are doing two summer reading programs. The one in our Town and also the one in my parents town. My kids spend alot of time at grandma's in the summer(maybe more time then they do at home because grandma has the pool LOL) So I take them to the one in our town and everytime they are at grandma's my mom take them to the libary there in here town and they all have there own card for both libraries. What fun memories.

Stacy at Exceedingly Mundane said...

Oh wow, what a wonderful post Karen! I loved it, and you know I love the library! I can't ever remember doing the summer reading program as a child, but I read all of the time. Voraciously. I got out of the reading habit after college, and it took me a while to get back, but I'm back now and I love every facet of it. Sitting down on the library floor, searching online and reading book lovers blogs for ideas, browsing for as long as I can in a bookstore, all of it. It's such a wonderful hobby and I totally agree about the library. I think it's great they do these things to get kids to read, especially in this day and age of TV, movies, DVD's, computers, play stations, etc. I hope our younger generation and those to come never lose sight of the love of a good book - or that you can go to your local library and read them for free. What a wonderful country we live in :)

Great post, just awesome!

Robin said...

Beautiful post! I love libraries - the one I grew up with provided me with many happy hours! I love anyplace where there are lots of books!

Barb said...

I remember getting my first library card when I was about 8 years old, Karen. The library was the most exciting place in the world to me. They had endless Nancy Drew books!

Thank you for your prayers. It's devastating that Rob has lost his job again. This has been a very rough year for him, but the excitement of expecting a new grandchild does soften the blow at least a little.

Thank you for your kind words.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Hey Karen,

I replied to you on my blog, but thanks again for your comment about my book. You made my whole weekend. :)

kim said...

What a lovely memory you posted. I think we might be kindred spirits. Go read my post answering this question! ;)
*smiles*
Kim

gail@more than a song said...

I just love libraries too!

justabeachkat said...

I use my library alot. I go every two weeks and pick up a supply of books on CDs. I hardly ever listen to my radio anymore when I'm in my car, which is alot. I'd rather listen to a good book.

BTW, thanks for your sweet comment on my blog. The photo of me and my hubby is new. Thanks for noticing :-)

Hugs!
Kat