Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Treasured Atmosphere

"I would be most content if my children grew up
to be the kind of people who think
deecorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves."
~Anna Quindlen~

From the time our children are infants, we are conscious of all they are in contact with.  Soft blankets enfold them.  Beautiful music soothes them.  We show our concern for their safety by covering outlets and padding table corners.  We enjoy sweet times of snuggling on the sofa introducing them to new friends through books.  Many of these friends they will revisit over and over and never forget.

As they grow, often other "more important" activities take the place of reading.  Other possessions edge out books for display.  There are those who actually refer to shelves of books as...GASP!...clutter!!! 

Libraries are wonderful inventions.  I must believe that or I wouldn't own one.  But the reason I have a library of my own is that I value having books in the home.  There are few things quite as satisfying as wanting to visit a friend and finding him or her or it at arm's reach.  There is nothing quite so calming in turbulent times than finding comfort in the pages of my own personal volume, pages worn with use.  There is nothing like enjoying times of hilarity with the family again and again.  And when my children want to know something, the answer is usually just a book away.

I love to encourage my library patrons to buy books for their children.  They are often at a loss as to what books to get, especially when they can just check them out from me.  "Buy what they love", I answer.  Usually if they find themselves checking out the same title again and again, that's a pretty good indicator that this book should be added to the collection.  It is very special to a child to have his own personal book shelf...or better yet, bookcase.  Rainy afternoons are just right for pouring over picture books, fairy tales, adventures.  Night time rituals are the perfect way to include books as children run their fingers over favorites to feed their dreams.  Older children are challenged and equipped to be men and women of character.  And they take these treasures with them to some day challenge and equip their own children.

It is a legacy we leave them.  Of all the possessions that clamor for our space, books are the most lasting and endearing, a treasured atmosphere that will carry them throughout life.

This post was featured on The Art of Home-Making Mondays.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What if...

What if every parent or teacher spent 2-5 minutes a day reading...just reading?

What if every parent or teacher spent 2-5 minutes once a week looking at a beautiful piece of art?

What if every parent or teacher played a few minutes of classical music each day in the background?

What if every child committed one poem to memory?

What if every child spent one hour a week playing outdoors?

What if every child had a shelf of books to call his own?

What if every child spent one afternoon acting out a scene from a book he had read?

What if every 2 year old spent one minute a day on the knee of someone he loves hearing a nursery rhyme?

What if every young man read just one biography of a great hero?

I ask you...what if?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Priceless Gift

"My parents gave me the priceless gift of a life formed by story because they understood the crucial truth that to read a great story is to begin to learn how to live one.  Life is a story, and each of us has but one tale to live as valiantly as we can."

Caught Up in a Story
Sarah Clarkson

Saturday, January 17, 2015

What Have I Lost...What Have I Gained?

I was in the library reshelving the mountains of books that had been returned, letting my mind wander over the 14 years since my dream of operating this library had come into existence.  A thought suddenly struck me and I stood upright.  I looked around me.  Books on shelves, books on the floor, books in my hand...always in my hand.  Where had this drive, this passion for the written word come from?

My mind drifted farther back in time, to the 60's, when I was a small girl.  I was grasping for a memory...any memory...of books in my life.  I could find none.  I had no recollection whatsoever of being read to as a young child.  I had dolls, and I remember the Christmas of my fourth year getting my beloved Raggedy Ann.  She is still with me, nearly 50 years old now, and showing her age like I am.  I recall long hours playing outside, turning hollyhock blossoms into lovely ballroom ladies and setting them to dancing on the water.

But no books...

I don't blame my parents for this.  They both worked long hours just trying to put food on the table.  They had not grown up with books themselves, being children of the Appalachian mountains where day to day thoughts were on survival.

1972, my 4th grade year, was a turning point for me.  I had gotten perfect attendance and my teacher, Mrs. Elkins, gave me a copy of a Trixie Belden book.  I still have the very copy of this book.  I devoured it and wanted more.  I read voraciously...Trixie, Ramona the Pest, Anne of Green Gables.  I even remember the Landmark book on Old Ironsides.  My 7th grade teacher, Mrs. Grabeel, would spend time every day reading to her class.  I listened in rapt attention as she read, experiencing for the first time really, that anyone took the time to just read to me.

In high school, my quest for books did not diminish.  I read as I had time between my studies (and playing Rook in study hall.)  Thankfully I did have a couple of English teachers who assigned some decent literature which pointed me away from the twaddle and gave me a taste of beautiful words.

In my young adult years I always read...and read...and read...volumes upon volumes of Christian know the ones that line the Christian bookstore shelves.  Oh how I would love to have all those reading hours back!

Then...I had a child.

And the rest, as they say, is history.  I began filling his life with the written word, discovering the treasures I had never known in my own childhood.  As he grew, my knowledge and collection grew.  The hours I never had as a child being read to, snuggled up on the sofa or in the bed, being taken away to other lands, we're being spent with my own child.  And it was wonderful.  His mind and imagination were being fed from the best of children's literature.  It became part of our family culture.  My boys have never known a time without books.  They have been shaped and formed by story.

As my memories brought me to the present, I realized I had lost a lot from being book deprived as a child.  Even though I had been privileged to unearth these treasures with my children, I knew I was missing that childlike faith in reading them.  I was an adult and could never again know the wonder and excitement of really believing that everything is possible in books.  It made me very sad.

But I have gained so much in sharing these gifts with my children.  There is nothing in the world that equals reading to a child, to travel to those worlds with them, to see them being molded and equipped for their life's callings.  And I am being re-made.  I bring to the table more life experiences.  My own future is made fuller because of these books.

And the joy I have of offering this collection to the young lives in the library is immense and so very rewarding.  So I pick up another stack of books to shelve.