As a young girl, I remember how it felt to pick a book out at the library, carefully taking my time. I’d place the stack on the check-out counter with a feeling of accomplishment. The librarian would slowly turn the book over, open the back cover and remove the card. She’d stamp the card and then the book with the due date. Things were pretty simple back then.
A book plays an important part in my novel, too. Without it, Katie would never be able to live her two lives. She reads right before she goes to bed, places it on her nightstand and off she goes!
When I was teaching third grade, I had a gifted student with a wide range of interests. During library period, the librarian rushed up to me with a very thick book in hand. That third grader wanted to read Moby Dick. She was all flustered and said the book was too hard for an eight year old and he’d never read it. I sat, smiling and nodding, while she made a list of reasons why he shouldn’t check it out. She finished with a flourish, “You’re the teacher. I need your approval for him to check out this book.”
I paused and said, “Let him check it out.” Little did she know, I swelled with pride that a student of that age wanted to tackle Moby Dick.
Her stunned expression said it all. “I think you should tell him he can’t check it out.”
Surprised, I didn’t want to argue. “Why?” I had to ask.
“He’ll never read it.”
Now those were fighting words. How did she know he wouldn’t read it? In my mind, if he tackled the first chapter and gave up, it was a win-win. There weren’t too many places in school where children get a choice and I felt the library was one of them. I always let the kids pick what they wanted.
You’re probably wondering who won the Battle of Moby Dick. Me, although that doesn’t happen very often in my life. But when I set my mind to something, watch out…especially if it involves kids.
I don’t remember how far the student got in the book, but he did read it. In years to come when I’d run into his mom, she’d always bring up the subject of Moby Dick. She’d tell me how thrilled her son was to bring the book home and that I let him. Even she was hesitant and doubted he would read it but he proved her wrong. She said he always remembered he was allowed to get the book. Those are the memories that stay with us.
Before my first book was published my husband said I should get a Kindle. I fought it for awhile but realized he was right. My book would be available on Kindle besides print. It’s the way of the world these days and I realized we can’t freeze time. I enjoy my Kindle, found my library has an ebook website and you download your book without leaving home. It’s easy to read in the sun, too. I upgraded recently to the Kindle Fire and passed the old one on to my husband.
Still there’s something about walking in that library and checking out a book. Seeing the cover in person, flipping the pages, using a bookmark takes me back to the time when I was young and carried my stack of books home. I know some will vote for progress and say “get with the program”. Others will say give me the good, old-fashioned book. I still lean toward the book in hand. Imagine how it would have looked if my student ran home to tell his mom he was allowed to download a book. I much prefer picturing Moby Dick hoisted over his head and him shouting as he ran in the door, “Look what I’m going to read!”