Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Memories Rewind: Towering Stacks of Treasure

Hello, readers! Madison invited me to do a guest post for this week's Memories Rewind, and I was very excited for the opportunity to share with all of you. My name is Tanya Hudson, and I was Madison's junior English teacher a few years ago. (She was an excellent student and, of course, an excellent writer, as I'm sure you could've guessed. :p) Now, I'm a school librarian in Athens, GA, and I thought I would share one of my favorite childhood memories: summer trips to the library with my Mammaw.

We didn't have much money when I was growing up; my parents had me and my little brother, Dave, when they were teenagers--just kids themselves. Despite their limited means, though, Mom and Dad always made sure we had books at home, and they always encouraged us to read--but I was ravenous for more. I even read in the bathtub, squinting to decipher the microscopic print on the lime green shampoo bottle.

Enter my Mammaw, who kept Dave and me in the afternoons during the school year and in the summertime while Mom and Dad were at work. Often--sometimes twice a week, sometimes every single day--Mammaw would pack us kids into her clunky blue station, along with her bulky black handbag and a canvas sack full of books to be returned, and we would ride across town to the library. (I don't mean for the ride to sound long; "across town" in Hartwell, GA is never more than a few minutes away.) When we arrived, she would head over to the large print adult fiction (she didn't see so well) and inevitably choose a handful of trashy romance novels to peruse while Dave and I made our choices.

Now, honestly, I don't remember the first time I visited the library, probably because I was too young to remember most things yet, but I do remember the sense of awe I felt every time I saw those shelves upon shelves of books. They were all treasures, all full of magic and wonder, packed with people and places I didn't yet know but yearned to visit.

I started, of course, with the picture books, like most kids do. Sometimes I would take a towering stack of those over to the lounge chairs by the window and read them right there in the library before choosing even more to check out and take home. I had my own library card, but kids were only allowed to check out three books at a time, and I just couldn't abide by that silly rule; instead, Mammaw would check out my books on her card so I could take eight or ten at a time (stuffed, of course, in one of her faded canvas bags).

When I got a little older, I moved two shelves over, from the E-for-Easy area to the J-for-Juvenile-Fiction section, where the books got thicker and, in my opinion, much more exciting. I learned that Encyclopedia Brown was smart enough solve any mystery, followed the Boxcar Children on many adventures, envied the girls in the Babysitter's Club books (who seemed so mature to me at the time), laughed at Ramona Quimby's antics, cried with Wilbur the pig when his spider friend, Charlotte, took her last breath. I read my favorites over and over, and the librarians (who, of course, knew me by name) would always let me know if they'd gotten in a new book that they thought I might like.

Now that I'm a librarian myself, I get to experience the magic from a whole new angle. When I read a picture book to my kindergarteners and see them smile or laugh or stare in disbelief, it reminds me of when I was their age, just starting to realize the wonder of reading. When I recommend Mary Downing Hahn's Wait Till Helen Comes (one of my childhood faves) to a fifth grader who wants a good scare, and when that kid comes back a week later saying, "That was so good! Are there more books like this one?"....well, pardon the cliche, but it warms my heart. When we order new books, I bubble with anticipation, just waiting to show them to the kids next time they come in. And sometimes, I even plop down in our story corner with a big stack of picture books and just sit there, reading, letting the stories whisk me back to those summer days in the library.


Yaya' s Home said...

Aaaaaaahhh, yes. That's exactly how I felt as a librarian. I loved going to the library; still do, but the library where I live now is only open two hours a week... sometimes. LOL

~ Yaya

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