Thursday, January 12, 2017

So Many Books, So Little Time

My sister, Lisa, and I share some reading time.
So many books, so little time.

I saw someone with that slogan emblazoned on their sweatshirt several years ago. It could be my theme song. You know the old TV show, Cheers? In the theme song, Cheers is a place "where everyone knows your name." I don't have any bars that fit that description, but the Hutchinson Public Library checkout desk personnel definitely know my name. I usually have books "on hold" there.

If I were independently wealthy, I might buy my favorite authors' books the minute they are published. But, alas, since I am not, I am a frequent flyer at my library.

These days, I'm not usually at the library on Sundays. But back in 1979 and 1980, I was there almost every Sunday afternoon. I was a reporter at The Hutchinson News back then, and I lived by myself in a one-bedroom apartment on 7th Street, just a couple blocks south of the library at 9th and Main.

Sundays were my loneliest day of the week. I missed going to church with my family and having Sunday dinner together. Though I got involved with a Sunday School class, sang in the choir and became part of the church family at Hutchinson's First United Methodist Church, Sunday afternoon stretched out in front of me. Most weeks, I'd head off to the library after lunch.
(me and Lisa in November 1959. Lisa always says I taught her to read. She was a year behind me in school, but she sat right beside me as I learned to read. By the time she was in first grade, she was an old pro.)
It almost seemed like my home away from home. I can't remember a time when I wasn't a library patron. My mom took us to the old library at the Pratt County Courthouse from the time we could toddle in on our own steam.
It was exciting when the new library was built in Pratt. There was a whole room of children's books where I discovered Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew. I still love mysteries and thrillers today, and I have to believe those days of uncovering clues with them had to have laid an early groundwork for this love affair that's lasted all of my life.

On Sunday, I read an article in The Wichita Eagle, encouraging parents to read at least 1,000 books to their child by the time he or she is ready for kindergarten. Ironically, I had a dozen children's books in the backseat of the car at the time! I'd spent the past week babysitting Kinley and Brooke. It's become my custom to stop at the Hutchinson Public Library and select books from their extensive children's department. I usually settle on 12, since it's easy to remember how many need to go back into my plastic library sack at the end of our time together. 
July 2016: Brooke reading "Count On It," the rhyming farm counting book I wrote and illustrated for Kinley & her.
This time, Brooke's favorite was "Encore for Eleanor." I brought it the last time, too, and they both liked it so much that I picked it up again. It has too many words for a 2 year old, but Brooke "reads" it with me the same way every time. During this trip, she showed her personality when she added a new fictional destination as Eleanor is trucked from her job at the circus to a zoo. Instead, Brooke insisted Eleanor was off to the "pizza place." Brooke would laugh, turn the page and show that Eleanor had arrived at the zoo instead.
Brooke reading to her baby: July 2016
Because the girls liked Bill Peet's Eleanor book so much, I also selected a couple more of his titles. Kinley liked the rhyming "Smokey" and "The Luckiest One of All." But Kinley's favorite this time was one I remember from childhood, "Katy No Pocket," which was published in 1961 and illustrated by H.A. Rey, who also drew the Curious George books. They also both loved "DW's Library Card," which talks about checking out books at the library.
Kinley in August 2014, reading Go, Dog, Go! to me. It was also a favorite of her Mommy's.
In the Wichita Eagle article, it says repeating books counts, too, since children love and learn through repetition. In the five days I was with them, I'm guessing we read the equivalent of 40 books (and I think I'm being conservative). When I linked the article to Facebook, their daddy reminded me that they read two books a night before bedtime, not counting books read during other times of the day, so 5-year-old Kinley reached the 1,000-book mark long ago (and honestly, I think Brooke probably has, too).
February 2016
I hope they'll remember those times reading with Grandma. One of my favorite childhood memories is  my mom reading the "Little House on the Prairie" books to us. One by one, she checked them out of the Pratt library and read the whole series, with all of us crowded together on the living room couch. Later, I read them again for myself - more than once.
(Darci, me and Lisa with our books:  I have no idea why Lisa and I are in our robes outside)

I carried on the reading and library tradition with Jill & Brent. Randy & I read to them long before they could actually comprehend the words. We visited both the Stafford and Hutchinson libraries and carted home armfuls of books. Both of them still love reading today.

If you're an adult looking for a reading challenge, Eagle reporter one book a month from a list of 12 categories, including a favorite book from childhood, a memoir, a book by a Kansas author or one set in Kansas, and a book with a blue cover.

As I was putting yet another book on hold on the Hutchinson Public Library's site, I clicked on a link that listed their 10 most popular books for checkout during 2016. Five of the top ten were children’s picture books, and another three were children's fiction books, making 7 of the top 10 children's literature. Even in this world of Kindles and tablets, people are still finding it valuable to nestle a child on a lap and open traditional books. That is good news indeed!


  1. I agree 100 fold the importance of children having books read to them.
    Children's books in the last 10 / 15 years have come a long way. Bad news going into a bookshop as one just wants to buy, buy, buy. Sadly I have no-one to read them too.

    1. I have trouble passing both bookstores and libraries! That's not a bad problem though.

  2. I have instilled a love of books into my children. Reading to them at a young age is just so important. For baby or christening gifts we always give books.

    I, myself, don't have much time for reading these days. It is a long while since I have read a novel. Maybe in the future...

    1. I make time to read, even if only for a few minutes at bedtime before I fall asleep. I always say that it's what keeps me sane!