Thursday, March 3, 2011

World Book Day, 2011

It seems mostly centered in Great Britain, but since it's called 'World' Book Day - it's a great day to think about what books mean to us, no matter where we live. Great day to visit the library or a local independent bookstore or wherever it is that you borrow or buy books. (I had an especially fruitful trip to the library on Tuesday.) This is a great day to take a young child to the library and sign up for a library card. What, you don't have a card? Well, then, sign up for two. It is such a simple process, I can't imagine why anyone would not have a card.

Thanks to a very enterprising teacher, I got my first library card when I was 6 years old. There were no books in my house, so this was the first time I experienced a room filled, floor to ceiling, with books. Books I could borrow and bring home. It was truly a life-altering experience. Especially since English was not my first language. How I managed I don't remember, all I know is: I haven't stopped reading since.

Do you remember what first turned you onto books?


  1. I had my library tickets when I was just a wee girl - every Saturday my big sister and I would spend our Saturday mornings there. We had some books at home but Christmas and birthdays usually brought us at least one each and then there were the booktokens from elderly relatives who had no idea what to buy young kids!

    I could lose myself in a book - well, there was no daytime TV or electonic games, let alone the internet.....

    I grew up, moved to London, married and had kids and then we all moved back to my home town when my children were 2 and 4 years of age. One of the first things we did was to go and join the library - walking into the children's area was like walking back in time! Same old tables and chairs, same old bookshelves and same old wobbly parquet flooring but new and exciting displays of books everywhere. Never thought I'd end up working there myself! And certainly never thought one of my children would grow up to become a librarian herself!

  2. Books had better be important to me, as I'm married to a school librarian!

    I grew up surrounded by books, at home and at school. My elementary school library introduced me to the Mary Poppins stories, and Cheaper by the Dozen, and all kinds of traditional and non-traditional books. I fell in love with mysteries in High School, where the library had an outstanding collection of John Dickson Carr's books. I also haunted several branches of the New York Public Library.

    And one of my family's closest friends while I was growing up was the woman who ran the book department at Macys, on 34th Street. I still have a lot of her gifts in my collection.

    Influences? You bet!

  3. Sue: You must feel so proud to have your own child grow up to follow in your footsteps. ;)

    You were fortunate to have relatives who gave you book-tokens (I can guess what those are) and to receive books at the holidays.

    You have to start 'em young, I think. Although a natural born reader can be lured into a book at any age. The books just have to be there!

    Reading online is just not the same thing. Online you don't develop a reverence for reading and for the actual book. At least from what I can see. I'm probably in the minority now, I know.

  4. Oh Les, you had an ideal reading childhood! The book department at Macy's - WOW! Those were the good old days when department stores had great book divisions. I still remember B.Altman's book department, too. The good old days.

    My love of mysteries began with, Pippi Longstocking which were a kind of mystery/adventure series featuring the very first 'feminist' character I can remember. Then from there to Nancy Drew and the rest, as they say, is history. Ha!

    And you grew up to marry the right sort of partner - a school librarian. It was fate. ;)

  5. Don't you have book tokens over in America? They're just vouchers you can use in bookstores ( although nowadays they seem to have morphed into gift cards!)

  6. My mom introduced me to books. We spent loads of time at the public library, and also had out own books at home. She's pretty much the reason I'm such a big reader.

  7. Sue: We used to have gift certificates, in some places, still do. But mostly it's just gift cards now. I like the idea of something called 'book tokens.' :)

  8. Wallce: You're fortunate indeed to have been able to share books with your mom. My own mom read a little, but mostly Spanish books. And really and truly, I don't remember ever seeing her sitting and reading a book. My father read newspapers and the occasional magazine, but that was it.

    And yet, my brother and I are voracious readers.
    Go figure.

  9. We didn´t own any books in my working class home either, but my father taught me to love the library. He went there on Friday nights (his only chance after work), and when I was 5-6 years old, I was allowed to accompany him. Before I could read, I brought home Astrid Lindgren or other books with plenty of pictures, and public libraries have made such an enormous difference in my life as it is only lately I have been able to buy many of the books I devour every year.

    And with the ridiculous book prices in Denmark, even middle class families depend on libraries for reading materials. So libraries still help bridging the gap between those who have and those who haven´t.

  10. Library cards should be more important than drivers' licenses, in my opinion.

    I was so eager to read I asked my brother to teach me when I was four. I had a head start on other kids by the time I started 1st grade. These days I am hearing from my nieces and nephews that their children are expected to know how to recognize a handful of simple words when the start kindergarten. Are schools that rushed these days? I also hear that that phonics is out and children are learning to read by sight and memorization which is leading to some problems as they get older.

  11. Books aren't exactly cheap here either, Dorte. I know how you feel. My budget for book buying is fairly limited now. But my local library has been a god-send. Sometimes though, it's too much of a good thing - I get carried away. :)

  12. John, I think with the internet and all, kids are more-or-less expected to learn certain things on their own, I suppose. It's hard though, I can't imagine placing more pressure on parents these days. There's already so much. Yes, everyone's in a big hurry.

    I feel sorry for kids that need a bit of time to play catch-up. I don't know exactly where it is that everyone is in such a rush to get to.

  13. I know the best American books are not free, but the two hardbacks I have borrowed this week would have cost me $ 39 + $ 45 (ordinary, fairly popular crime fiction). So Danish books are for birthdays, not everyday consumption.

  14. Wow, that is pricey, Dorte. I'll have to stop complaining about prices here, obviously.

  15. My parents were both constant readers (constant - they read while they watched TV), and my father brought us to the library every week. It was like church. Really, you couldn't talk out loud, and it was a sacred ritual. I still go to the library, usually about every three weeks when my books are due. Maybe I don't read as fast as my father did.

  16. I was brought to the library right down from the block from our apartment in NYC, and I was the youngest person then to have gotten a library card, at the age of three.

    My parents had books, and read; my father was never without a newspaper or a book in his hand, even when he watched tv, a bad habit I picked up.

    But they always took us to libraries, and then I went with other kids or by myself. I always regarded libraries with awe, still do. They're like bakeries to me--walk in, see and small the goodies. Half the fun is the anticipation of the good books, and then of course finding more and bringing them home to savor.

    I often visit library branches in my city if I need to go to another location. It's always exciting.

    Libraries should be sacrosanct, untouchable by any budgetary cuts in hours, staff or books. They are just vital to learning.

    And I learned to love and respect books. If anyone in my presence puts a book on the floor, or otherwise mistreats it, I recoil in horror and say something. (That's just how I was brought up, with great reverence for books and writing.)

  17. Jacqueline: You are fortunate to have had the shared reading experience with your parents. I missed out on that and I still wish it had been otherwise. But at least I learned to love reading all on my own. I had the best and most nurturing teachers in the 50's in NYC.

  18. Kathy: Again I say you have been fortunate to have had this reading bond with your parents. My mother encouraged my reading though she was not a great reader herself. She knew the importance of it though.

    I agree with you Kathy, libraries should be sacrosanct.

  19. I can't imagine what a thrill it must have been for you to discover the library! I always grew up with books in my house but we didn't have a lot of money so the only way to have books to read as fast as I could read them was to go to the library. Thank heavens my parents were more than willing to make that trip!

  20. Lisa: When I first set foot in a library it was like setting foot in an Aladdin's Cave. AND the first time I visited a friend from school and saw books in her home was an eye-opener, too. My parents were just too busy making a living to give any imporance to books. Later though they did buy me a set of fairy tales and, if I remember correctly, some sort of encyclopedia.


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