Although my somewhat dazed expression in this photo from 1950 may not reflect it, I’ve had a lifelong love of reading, which I attribute in no small part to my mother’s lifelong love of reading. She was a devoted member of two book clubs for over 40 years! Recently I overheard a young man tell a friend that he doesn’t read books. That prompted me to reclaim and repost this article as a tribute to books and reading and a challenge to anyone out there who doesn’t “get” the value of huddling together and sharing a physical book. Dads and older brothers… this is especially for you… please put yourself into this picture!
I got my first library card when I was barely three. There I stood looking way way up at Ms. Heitman from her perch at the reference desk at the Finklestein Memorial Library in Spring Valley N.Y.
“ May I have a library card?” I asked (I’d already been properly instructed in the difference (between may I and can I!)
“How old are you?” asked Mrs.Heitman,
I counted on my fingers, ”Thweee!”
“Can you write your name?”
“You must be able to write your name to get a library card at The Finklestein Memorial Library.”
“I’’ll be back!”
And I was. Within a week I could write my name, and I’ve been haunting libraries, and surrounding myself with books ever since.
A visit from our son provided an opportunity to browse through some old photos and consider the legacy of reading in our family.
This one of our granddaughters, Maya and Raina is a treasure. At the time, Maya was eleven, Raina was one. Maya is reading a book we gave to her when she was a toddler…But Not The Hippopotomus by Sandra Boynton.
Now here’s a picture of my wife Liz and I reading a book to Maya years ago. It’s one of the Golden Book classics, Big Brown Bear, published in 1948 the year of my birth. It’s the first book I have a clear memory of and which in another post I’ll credit with pointing me to a decade of adventure in Alaska (that as they say is another story)
So there’s a lineage here of the love of books and reading.
I’ve been thinking a lot about legacy gifts recently and suddenly I pictured Maya and Raina, together someday far in the future, two venerable old sisters, poring over a family heirloom- this photograph of the two of them, and a rendering of the moment by my incredibly talented artist friend Peter Menice. Peter created this Dig Into Reading poster for me for one of my Summer Reading Library tours. I figured this could make a great Christmas gift for the girls and Peter was just the person to pull it off.
Let me just say that when I presented the idea to Peter it was a like lighting a firecracker with a short fuse. Peter just about exploded with enthusiasm and burst of possibilities. That’s Peter always ready willing, eager and ready to take an idea or concept, collaborate, create, and find an opportunity to express his passion and find a way to bring his core and essence to his life and work. (Find Peter at PeterMenice.com) As you can see, Peter found a clever way to bring together the feeling of the Hippo book, with the photo of the sisters reading together
“The best way to to squeeze the wine out of good fortune is to dance on it with ready feet.” So I have heard. What good fortune to have a friend like Peter, with a ready imagination and a ready hand to draw! What good fortune to have been given the legacy of the love of reading. What good fortune to have had an opportunity to pass it on to my grandchildren and the kids we work with all over the country. What good fortune to watch my granddaughters grow, and to be truly curious kids and what greater good fortune can there be than to see their love for each other.
So here’s to the love of books and reading, here’s to families reading together, and here’s to the creative and collaborate spirit in all the different way it manifests!
Hope you’ll consider leaving a comment… or better yet, tell us about how you got hooked on reading and are keeping the tradition alive!
I remember Ms. Heitman well, although she was probably 15 years older when I first met her. To this day, when I go to The Finkelstein Library, I always see her face and wish she was there. At the same time I look around in disappointment at how the library’s renovation years ago, replaced the intimate atmosphere (that made reading while there so enjoyable) with an overtly institutional look. Progress is not always good.
I like the idea of Legacy Gifts very much. And of course collaboration is so vital in most creative efforts. If even just for two individuals to bounce ideas off one another, I usually find that 1 + 1 = 3.
This sparks fond memories of trips to the library when I was little. My mother took me to the big, downtown library. It felt huge to me and I loved going. Both my parents loved to read and libraries were a special place. I don’t though recall my parents ever reading to me.
Your collaboration with Peter sounds interesting. I like the poster!
and you became a storyteller! Sometimes I think it’s not the particular books and stories that we heard, read, checked out… but of being with our mothers/family that sticks in our memories… our fond memories as you say.