Scooby Dooby Doo, I See You
Every other week I spend a few minutes volunteering at the school library. It’s a fun, quiet half hour for me before I walk down to the Kindergarten class and the controlled chaos of a swarm of six-year-olds. I chat with the aide who runs the library (she’s a saint — the librarian position was axed years ago and this woman does a ton of work for considerably less pay, I would guess) but mostly I pick up the books kids have returned and put them back on the shelves.
As a writer of adult novels, I find it fascinating to see what gets checked out. (And if you are writing YA or middle grade fiction, I would think a similar experience would be invaluable.) Every week, I see the same books — the flower fairy series, a series about children who turn into animals, the usual Cornelia Funke and Harry Potter books. Scooby Dooby Doo, who manages to make it into my son’s backpack every single week. Good books all, especially since they are actually being read.
But there are the days when I’m shelving books and something unexpected slips off the cart and into my hands, like a gift. I can’t resist — I flip through the pages, read a few, and before I know it, I’ve been transported to another time and place. I’m gulping words as fast as I can when the morning announcements break in and jolt me back to reality.
Later, walking down the halls to class, watching the kids jostle by, I see them a little differently than before. I wonder which one picked out that book, and why. I wonder if he or she is a member of my tribe — the word addicts — and what will happen, where that addiction will lead. Although we don’t know each other, we share a secret, we’ve met, if only across the pages of the same book. And as I look at these kids and at the path facing them in the future, I find that comforting.
Aw, that’s beautiful, Liz, and so true. I’ve tried to hook my kids on the library, and they do appreciate it, but I’m not sure they have the same, almost…mystical sense of it. Perhaps that takes a writing sensibility.
Sometimes I think that my kids find my suggestion to “go read their book” as a form of punishment, which makes me sad to think that they may not share my level of enjoyment at getting into a good book and letting everything around me fall away. And then suddenly, they will have found something at the library that speaks to them and I can’t get them off the couch to even consider stepping outside for some fresh air. Then I know that they, too, are not immune to the magic.
What I love is that the right book is different for everyone — and you never know when they are going to find it.
Thomas gets a dinosaur book every week. (You should really check out the Henry and Mudge books, very sweet books about a boy and his large dog).
Linda, I keep meaning to look for those. Thanks for reminding me!