Sunday, March 13, 2011

When did you first know you loved to read?

by: Joelle Charbonneau

Most writers I know are readers first. I am. I loved reading long before I even dreamed of being a writer. Some writers can tell you exactly which book or author made them fall in love with reading. Some can even tell you which author inspired them to write their own books. I have no idea which author grabbed me first or which one made me think – wow, I want to do that! But I can tell you where I learned to love reading.

My local library.

Every summer when I was growing up, you could find me at least once or twice a week at the Bensenville Public Library. The librarians loved that I wanted to read. They even gave me a lot of great suggestions as to what I should be reading next. When I was in high school I would sometimes check out 8-10 books a week and plow through them all. I discovered books in genres I might not have ever thought to read on my own. I didn’t love them all, but I was always glad that I read them. Within the library walls I also read plays, listened to musical recordings and looked up information on colleges.

If not for my local library and the love of books that I found there I would never have taken the leap to writing books of my own. A great deal of my life was shaped by the experiences I had at the library. I can’t imagine what my childhood would have been like without them. And now, as an adult, I find myself truly honored when a librarian recommends my book. How cool is that?

Libraries are an essential part of our towns. They introduce children to books. They provide internet service to those who can’t afford computers and help those out of work search for jobs. They are a meeting place for community groups. They provide musical and theatrical programming. They… Well, the list goes on and on.

Because our educational system is in crisis (which our own Dave White can tell you a lot about) the libraries find their services even more in demand. Circulation and computer usage is way up – especially in rural or more depressed areas. Communities need their libraries and yet their budgets are being slashed. Almost every state is looking to cut their budgets by between 15-50%. Although in some instances this amount is higher. In Texas, the state government is looking to cut library funding by 80%.

For some reason our government seems to undervalue the importance of libraries. I, for one, have contacted my representatives to let them know that I don’t want to live in a country that doesn’t recognize the importance of a community center that is filled with books, music, newspapers, computers and a staff that is passionate about sharing them. So you can imagine my delight when ITW launched the Save The Libraries campaign a couple of weeks ago. If you don’t know about it make sure to check it out. Their first event and on-line auction was last night and I am hoping it was a resounding success. This is the first of many events and I am hopeful that the financial assistance and the public awareness the events draw will help our libraries survive and flourish.

We need our local libraries. I’m hoping you’ll join with me in talking to your local congressmen and senators or spreading the word about Save The Libraries. Let’s make sure the important of our libraries is not overlooked.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Republicans believe that only the poor utilize libraries and have no interest in this group of people. They used to at least have value to them as worker ants, but we not longer need US worker ants, we can use ones from other countries where we have no social responsibilities. And we have allowed the Republicans to take the reins of the country.
Sorry for a political rant first thing but I saw a movie last night that really drove it home. Even the Rain.
I still go to the library at least twice a week.

John McFetridge said...

Yes, I spent a lot of time in my local library growing up. I still spend a lot of time in the library and the Toronto Public Library is excellent, but like everywhere else these days it's threatened with budget cuts.

A few years ago in Ontarioi we had a Minister of Education who said, "Sometimes you have to create a crisis in order to solve it."

Now everytime someone says there's crisis and only budget cuts and less service for the people will solve it I wonder where the crisis really came from.

Scott D. Parker said...

I use my library now more than anyone I know. When people learn I check out books, movies, music, and comics from the library, they look at me and usually say "I never think about the library." We have a new branch near my house that's now within biking distance.

I can't remember a single book that made me a reader. It was a cumulative thing: comics, Star Wars, Hardy Boys, SF. Probably comics had a lot to do with it.

Jay Stringer said...

Libraries over ehre have moved right up to the top of the endangered species list, with hundreds of them on the brink of closure.

Maybe it's an inbuilt problem that comes when all of your politicians and leaders are millionaires. Too many of them, a 'library' is a big room in a wing of their house that has books in it, they maybe din't understand that other people need public libraries to get access to words.

I can't really point to a single book that made me love reading. It was always more about loving story telling. My Grandad used to put me on his knee and tell me stories of his adventures with dragons and elves, and finding lost mines in africa, and i was too young to know where half of these stories were being borrowed from. And long before I could read properly, i could watch films or read comic books, so i came in with a love of story telling first and foremost, and a love of books a little later.

Dana King said...

The people who make governmental funding decisions don;t use libraries. (It could be argues whether the people who make these decisions in the United States can even read, but that's a different debate.)

Personally, I mark the beginning of civilization as we know it to the construction of the first library, as it created a place where human knowledge and experience could be stored and shared without having to pass directly from person-to-person.

The internet is a great thing, but it's really just an exponentially larger repository of knowledge, aka library. The original was the critical moment for civilization.

We imperil a key element of our humanity when we allow our libraries to wither.

James Reasoner said...

When I was a kid, the bookmobile used to come out to our little town in the country from the library in the big city every Saturday. My sister took me to it and got me a library card when I was in the first grade, so that would have been 1959 or '60. After I stepped in there and saw all those books, nothing was ever the same.

Mike Dennis said...

I developed my interest in reading at a very, very young age, when my mother was reading to me. I attribute everything that followed to that: my desire to read, my curiosity about the wider world that I knew was out there, my interest in storytelling, and ultimately my beginnings as a writer.

If you want to steer a child in the right direction, nothing is as powerful as a mother reading to him/her.

Priscilla Caporaletti said...

It is sad that everything has become so political. It really doesn't suprise me that library funding is getting cut because at how politicans are cutting funding for educations... even go as far as saying that teachers are simply "overpaid babysitters."

When my 5th graders used to tell me that they don't like to read, my response used to be,"well, that just means you haven't found what you like to read yet."

I know that I liked to read when I was in elementary school. I know my mom used to take me to both the library and the book stores. I loved picking out books to take to the pool. I would read during the adult swim time. I remember going through a couple books a week.

Then, as an adult, I remember saying," I just don't have time to read." Finally, I took some of the advise that I use to give my students about not know what I liked to read. It was the librarian at the school where I worked who started me on a wonderful journey of reading again. Now, I don't go anywhere without a book. Books were, and still are, a refuge for me when my husband was in the hospital.

So, I might not know the exact year or age when I knew I first loved to read, but I am still astonished by the effects reading has had on me.