I have always loved reading. My library visits as a child are among my favorite memories. I can still smell the books, feel the quiet atmosphere, and see the illustrations in my favorite stories. Those times were magical because I was entering secret worlds, where only I was invited. At one point, during a summer reading program, the Children’s librarian pulled me aside and said, I think you might be ready for other things. I guess I was getting too old to hang out in the children’s section of the library. She said, “Let me show you some things,” and walked me over to the adult section. It was overwhelming. I didn’t know where to start. For some reason, she pulled out a copy of David Copperfield and said, “What do you think?” I read the first page, and I was in.
That summer changed everything for me. I loved being in the adult section of the library. I couldn’t believe I was allowed to be there! But despite all the wonderful things I found there, I missed the brevity and illustrations of children’s books.
Flash forward. I became a mother, and before my daughter was even born, I was buying her books. She was my excuse for going into the children’s section of bookstores. It seemed that books had grown more beautiful and exciting since I was a child. Now there were texture books for infants and toddlers, pop-up books, and books with parts that moved. Even little poofy plastic books that could be chewed or taken into the bathtub. Naturally, I had to buy some of each for her. It was always a priority for me to make sure she had good books to read. When she was older and in school, I made sure she always had a Scholastic book order to turn in. I’m pleased to say she grew up loving reading and still does.
What’s more, she has made sure her daughter has wonderful books. I now have the joy of encouraging my granddaughter to read. We read together on her visits. I buy her books. And most recently, she has been telling me she intends to write books. In fact, she works at it now.
I am now 61, recently moved to a new town, and got my library card. And I’ve become a frequent patron of a local bookstore. But I have yet to buy an adult book. Each week I borrow numerous children’s books from the library, and I relish every one. I’m sure the librarians wonder why I only check out children’s books. They perhaps assume I teach or read to a grandchild. But they’re all for me. I use them as mentor texts to see how masters write, how illustrators illustrate. I’m always surprised, awed, and inspired by the endless creativity, storytelling approaches, and magnificent tales that are out there to be told.
So here’s my confession. I am a child at heart, and I still love children’s books best. I will always read adult books on wide-ranging topics. But I will also always read children’s books because they utterly delight me. I am a mature woman with a lifetime of experiences, but deep inside, I am still that little girl in the corner of the children’s library, lost in her magical worlds. And that’s okay.
My granddaughter reading in bed.