Reader Breeder

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Today my daughter, Bailey, got her first library card! I got a bit weepy, as I have such a deep respect and appreciation for libraries and a great love for books. It was a tender rite of passage to introduce Bailey to the library and the nice librarians. They told us that she was their youngest card-carrying member at eighteen months of age. It’s never too early to foster a love for reading.

One of my most special childhood memories is of my Papa (my grandfather) and the trips he and I used to take to the library twice a week. I was fortunate to grow up with a library just down the street, within walking distance even by California standards.

Papa and I would go to the library on Sundays and, if I read whatever books I checked out by Wednesday, Papa would buy me a new book from the mall.

Each newly purchased book would go into our personal library collection. Most families refer to this as a “spare room,” but in my grandparents’ house, it was always the library. I grew up with the wonderful illusion of thinking everyone had a library in their home.

The first book checked out was one Bailey chose herself. Papa was a wonderful teacher and example for me to follow in the freedom he gave me as a child. He always trusted me to choose my own books, and he never tried to influence my choices. I hope I can follow in his footsteps.

It’s been said that books are our friends, and when I look back on my life I remember my past by the books I read just as much as by the people I surrounded myself with. They are the scrapbooks for the places I’ve traveled to, if only in my imagination.

It’s essential to read to our kids every day, but it’s special to encourage and create a space for them to enjoy reading to themselves too. My daughter has a little spot that she crawls into with her books. Relaxation is a learned behavior, and she looks forward to her down time with books as much as her parents do. There’s nothing quite like sharing an activity together that is also an individual experience. Reading as a family often gives us a home that is at once quiet and yet also filled with adventure.

Names changed to protect privacy.

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