Friday, 30 September 2016

Books are a Girl's Best Friend

My granddaughter has started kindergarten and is finding it a bit too easy. She's sort of bored, actually. I was telling my daughter-in-law that it will be easier once Kiddo can read -- then she can entertain and challenge herself outside of school. For the rest of her life, she'll be able to teach herself and explore, without having to wait for a teacher to take her there. Once you can read, you're never bored again. I can't wait to introduce her to my old favourites... A Hundred Dresses, A Little Princess, Charlotte's Web, Bread and Jam for Frances, Chicken Soup with Rice, My Father's Dragon, Blueberries for Sal... All my old friends I grew up with.

I remember the thrill of the Bookmobile coming around to our block in the summer. It would park in the church parking lot, and my brother and I would run to meet it. I still remember the hollow thump of our feet in the back of the truck, the smell of the books, the joy of checking out a new Hardy Boys mystery (we would practice inking each other's fingers and study our fingerprints with a magnifying glass, talking knowledgeably about ulnar loops, and we'd try to track various animals -- practising to be detectives, you know). It was like Aladdin's Cave on wheels, full of adventure and excitement.

Sometimes we'd get to go to the old Provo City Library, where my red plastic card would admit me to the children's section. I envied my mother's pink card that let her wander into any area of the library. We'd check out old Charlie Chaplin movies to play on our ancient projector, too...Ah, the days before Blockbuster and Netflix!

At Edgemont Elementary we had a wonderful librarian named Mrs. Condie, and she would read us Where the Red Fern Grows and The Great Brain in the perfect reading voice while we sat mesmerized on the carpet at her feet. My 5th Grade teacher Mr. Madsen read us Little Britches when we had free time in class. My favourite times at school were when we got to have read-a-thons in the gym. We'd lie on the floor with any free-reading book we wanted for the afternoon, and we could bring red licorice or Sugar Babies to eat while we read. Boy, those days are long gone now too. Try proposing an afternoon of sprawling on the floor with sugar at a grade school now! But it just added to my love of reading.

I love the feel of books in my hand. That kitchy furniture that looks like it's made out of books makes me happy. I love those podium things that hold special, heavy ancient books in museums and churches. I inhale that musty paper scent in old book shops as if it's the most expensive of perfumes. I love the very idea of glass-doored bookshelves and those sliding wall-mounted ladders reaching up to the high shelves. I can't help but judge people by their bookshelves. I collect pictures of reading nooks and window seats made for reading in. I know the advantages of e-readers, but they just don't feel like books, you know? Some of the cozy joy of it is lost when you try to curl up with a Kindle. It just isn't the same.

Once you can read, you can learn anything, because everything is in a book somewhere.

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