Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Library's Summer Reading Program

Times have certainly changed.

Young and old have embraced blackberries, Ipods, cell phones that do everything including phone calls, and wireless hookups. I’m so techno-unsavvy that I’m sure this little list is out of date.

For someone like me who lost the technology battle in the era of Transformer toys, it is heartening to know that some things have not changed. One such tradition, the summer reading program, has begun in libraries across the United States.

Readers and wanna-be readers gathered around the table in the heart of our little Florida library to fill out the color coordinated forms. Then they searched the shelves for new reading adventures, and began fulfilling the requirements to read for twenty days and earn a free book.

If you see the ‘free books,’ you will realize these readers are motivated by more than the flimsy paperback books offered as rewards.

Reading is its own reward.

Holding a book in your hands, getting lost in the story, learning new facts that expand your world, meeting characters, visiting exotic landscapes – whether interior or exterior, will leave readers forever changed.

There’s nothing more exciting than introducing a child to books, or for that matter, introducing others to a favorite author.

Not long ago, while I shelved books as part of my library page job, I saw two women sitting together at a table. One was obviously teaching the other to read. They came to that same table every morning for several weeks and often as I worked, I could hear the one middle-aged woman sounding out words, fitting them together into sentences and stumbling over this new ‘technology.’ Her table mate nodded and murmured encouragement or offered assistance.

Figuring out this business of reading gave that woman such pleasure, more, I suspect, than deciphering the secrets of computer-generated technology. When the sounds and the rules began to fit together into recognizable words, her face would transform into a smile that lit the entire room. Her teacher’s face glowed even brighter.

Many mornings I worked, hidden by book shelves where I listened to her, hearing not just the words she sounded out. But also the growing joy in her voice as she mastered something her children had been doing since kindergarten. I could see her world growing with each session. Her steps lightened, her posture changed from victim to CEO of her world. Reading will do that for you.

For some reason the reading program is especially popular this year. The parking lot fills before the library doors open each morning. I step over little kids lying on the floor of the children’s section, their eyes never leaving the pages of the books in their hands. Parents and children hunt through the nonfiction section for books that will tell them interesting facts.

Several of our regular patrons bring in their fat record books that list every book they have read and another list for those they want to read. They meticulously search the collection, checking off books as they find them. Commuters hunt through our collection of audio books on cassettes and CDs, so they can enjoy books on their long drives. One admitted to driving several times around the block before turning into her driveway because, “I’d just gotten to a good part and had to find out what would happen!”

All walk out of the library filled with enthusiasm about the books clutched in their hands. Books they will step into, lose themselves in once they’re at home, or at the beach, or on vacation, or combating insomnia.

And all of those tiny little faces entranced by picture books as parents snuggle close and read to their sons and daughters. Is there any part of parenting better than that? I don’t think a cell phone, Ipod, or even blogging can compare to a good book, enjoyed alone or shared with someone you love.

1 comment:

Sue said...

I like your blog, Dawn. I'm going to link it on mine.