Why reading is important to me
In celebration of National Library Week, April 15-21, the Hastings Public Library is sponsoring an essay contest. The essay topic is “Why Reading is Important to Me” and may focus on any aspect of reading such as reading for enjoyment, reading for life-long learning, reading at work, or reading to others. Since I am a staff member and am therefore ineligible to enter the contest, I’ll take this opportunity to share my story.
I started reading at the age of three. My little brain must have worked overtime to develop reading and verbal skills and forgot about the motor skills, which would explain my lack of coordination to this day. While I wasn’t much one for playing in the dirt or climbing trees, I could easily read or be read to for hours on end. Two of my favorites were “The Little Engine That Could” and “Augie Doggie Camps Out”.
Remember Rerun Van Pelt of the “Peanuts” gang? That was me. (At the age of four, I was still small enough to fit into the kiddie seat.) Each Wednesday evening we would head out on my mom’s 10-speed bike. Mom would drop me off for a church activity and she would head over to the Columbus Public Library. I can’t remember if she checked books out or read them there, but I knew that reading was going to be an important part of my life.
As a young child, reading was my gateway to using my imagination. I put myself in the shoes of Laura in “The Little House on the Prairie” series, Lucy in “The Chronicles of Narnia” series, and Harriet of “Harriet, the Spy”. In the summer, the librarian of the Fullerton Public Library would often see me come through the door early in the day and again just before close. There were times when the books were returned with Cheetos stains and an apology.
Throughout my elementary and high school years, my mom would also read the books assigned to me in class and we would discuss them over dinner. The last three English classes I took at Hastings High were more than just the nuts and bolts of literature. A great deal of philosophy was thrown in for good measure during class discussion and essay tests. Those classes prepared me to enjoy the likes of the “Border Trilogy” by Cormac McCarthy, the short stories of the “New Yorker”, and the magical realism of authors such as Laura Esquivel and Isabel Allende. Meanwhile, I developed a taste for mysteries and enjoyed Sue Grafton’s latest installment, trying to name the next title in the alphabet before it was published.
When I moved back to Hastings after college, one of the first things I did was come in and update my library card. The staff at the desk were always willing to help me find books that matched my interests.
At present, I have the awesome opportunity to work in a library. I don’t have any more time to read now than I have in the past, but I do have the opportunity to see what’s out there in fiction and nonfiction, and to read vicariously through the patrons who take me up on my recommendations.
A recent article in “Woman’s Day” magazine presented four women’s stories of hope and inspiration of how the library changed their lives. Reading and the role of the library is probably more important for some than for others. For me, they have been a constant, life-long staple of my intellectual diet, feeding my hunger to always discover, learn, and grow.