Growing up, our library’s entry had a wall of cement and glass bottles made by a woman who had constructed her entire house that way. The amber, clear and green bottle butts were flush on the side facing the entry and all the mismatched necks stuck out the other side. I loved walking past it. More than that, I loved the reading tree. The huge, realistic looking oak tree in the middle of the children’s wing had a tunnel through it, like the tunnels in giant redwoods that you can drive through. But two little seats remained on the inside of the children’s tree, so if you and your kid brother went to the library and picked out books from the metal racks, you could climb in and sit facing each other in the middle of the giant tree and read. It was AWESOME. At some point when I was a teenager there was an article in the paper reporting the tree would be removed and shortly after that it disappeared forever from the children’s wing of that library. I don’t know why they did that. It was the best part of the entire library. Well, maybe short of the books. I still hope that some librarian’s kid got the tree and reassembled it in their (humongous) room and will someday allow people to visit and perhaps climb in and read a few short stories.
The town we live in now has a beautiful central library with an impressive number of smaller satellite libraries. A librarian friend told me this is because when our town was first developing, the very genteel residents wanted to make libraries within walking distance of everyone, regardless of neighborhood. Oh how I love this city.
There are all kinds of interesting books and people at these libraries. Strangers strike up conversations with me there and I like that. Sometimes they yell at me. I like that less but I still like the mix. The libraries now have stations where children can sit and watch parts of stories being read. While I’m not crazy about the library being a place for screen time, the girls love it and usually ask to check out the book they’ve previewed.
Returning to children’s literature has been a huge bonus in this business of being a mama. After growing up (if indeed I have) I didn’t read children’s books anymore but they hold a special magic for me. When M & R are teens and well beyond such books I don’t imagine I’ll be able to leave them behind again. There are so many stories that bring me such happiness and I love all of the art included in so many of the books we love. I am grateful for the chance to borrow and read so many stories and I’m grateful for the ritual of our trips to the library.
The librarian at the girls’ preschool visits and reads stories to their class every Tuesday. She calls M & R her “best customers.” They can’t be read to enough. I fall asleep reading stories to them more often than I’d like to admit. Although I’m looking forward to the independence that learning to read will afford them, I hope they’ll be asking us to read stories to them for a long time.
Recently, R told me she wanted to be a librarian. I loved hearing that though I know it doesn’t translate into an easy career at this point. My librarian friend pointed out that as a librarian, he is now obsolete. I’m not sure which direction libraries and librarians will go over the next 15 years but I am so pleased that these girls love stories as much as they do and I’m glad that we live in a place where books and stories are shared by so many.