Earlier this week Laura Vanderkam posted about a contest Story Worth was hosting. The theme a story from you mother’s life that inspires you. While I wasn’t interested in entering the contest, it did get me thinking of what I would write about.
Beginning when my brother and I were very, very small, my mom made sure that reading was a part of our life. Every time we went to the grocery store, we selected one Little Golden Book to add to our collection. While Golden Books were meant to be affordable (they cost about 99 cents in 1986), it would have been easy to say that these books were unnecessary. My family was strictly low-income at this time, and frugality was always in play. Even all of our Christmas presents were secondhand, although my brother and I were none the wiser and the gifts were perfectly wonderful.
My mom knew, though, that it was important that we have our own books. We lived in a very rural area and didn’t have a public library of our own. A few years later my mother would start to pay for an out-of-district library card and take us weekly, another testament to her wisdom. At this time, though, that was less of an option. Besides, she knew that being surrounded by books in the home was something that children needed.
For years, I would revisit our bookshelves and page through the many books we had collected. I would pause at the nameplate in the front, reading “This Book Belongs To __________”, where my brother and I had penciled our names in childish writing (we inscribed all of them in one night, reveling in the process). Just last month, my mom asked me if I would like to take some for Hunter’s own library.
So where does this leave me today? I’m a children’s librarian. An avid bookworm my entire life, i could have ended up in any number of professions. Somehow I landed here, preaching the gospel of children’s literature and “read to your baby.” Would I be here if my mom hadn’t filled our shelves with books, reading to us every day? If she hadn’t surrounded me with literature so I could pick up a book at will and familiarize myself with the written word?
Wondering does nothing. None of us has the power to know which forks in the road led to where. All I know is that I am happy I have a mother who knew this was important, and did what she could to make it a part of our life.
*excerpted from “The Reading Mother” by Strickland Gillian