The first book I ever owned was The Little Red Hen. I read it over and over until it fell apart. My second book was The Little Ballerina, and I won’t ever forget the illustrations. I tracked down the artist a few years ago and even found where I could buy a copy of the long-out-of-print book for a sum I couldn’t begin to afford. I never got to take dance classes, but I never forgot that book or its beautiful drawings of a little girl in her very first ballet class.
The first library book I ever got to officially check out was Wicked Pigeon Ladies in the Garden. I was the proudest second-grader on the planet walking out of that library WITH the book in my hand, completely overwhelmed with delight that the librarian was trusting me to take it home and read it and then bring it back. It didn’t matter that I lived next door to the school; they trusted me! One day I would love to own a copy of that book as well, but sadly for now I will have to settle for viewing photos of the rare collectible on Amazon.
In our early days of homeschooling it was common for us to go to the library two or three times a week, often spending most of the day browsing shelves, researching topics of curiosity, and reading one book after another together. We went through all of the Borrowers, the Cheaper by the Dozen series, and numerous Matt Christopher sports stories with the boys. It was common for us to check out 30-40 library books each week, which necessitated two or three milk crates designated library crates so we could keep track of them all. Biographies, how-to’s, adventure stories, field guides, fiction, poetry, inspiration…our interests led us in every direction. It would be fun to know how many library books we’ve checked out over the years.
We’ve often joked that books were taking over our house. Our moderately-sized homes have always housed multiple bookcases, as many as 12 at a time. We finally broke down a few years ago and donated four large boxes of books to a local church library. I’ve given away many of our homeschooling books, and we still have 8 bookcases. But who’s counting?
I like the way books become my friends, and I like the breadth of my literary interests. The majority of my collection now is books on writing. I read them in little bites here and there, always dabbling but rarely actually reading one start to finish. I like the variety of skipping back and forth between books. Keeps things fresh and intriguing.
I recently began reading Jane Eyre along with our 17-year-old daughter. While she doesn’t embrace books with quite the same fervor as me, she seems to be enjoying this one.
Tonight as I prepare for bed, I will be careful not to topple the twin stacks of books on my nightstand, close at hand should I get the urge to read. That happens often. And I like that, too.