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Friday, August 21, 2009

Fatherhood Friday post: A great book for book lovers of all ages


I stumbled across Carla Morris’ book, The Boy who was raised by Librarians during one of our weekly trips to the library here in Jackson. Anna usually picks up the annoying Dora or Disney “story” books, and I try to tempt her with more intelligent fare from the stacks of non-Viacom or Disney books. I saw Morris’ book (deftly illustrated by Brad Sneed) and my heart leapt.
One of my first jobs was as a page at the library across the street from my high school back in Ohio. It was a small branch in the Toledo Public Library system, but it was home for me for a few years. I started out making $2.50 an hour, but I also remember that I would have done it for free if they would have let me. My parents have always encouraged reading, and it’s something that I have done with Anna (and now with Eli) as well. When I crossed over to being a “big kid” and was no longer beholden to a bed time, my folks would let me stay up in my room as long as I was reading.
Nothing more, no T.V. EVER!
I loved that feeling of independence, and would gleefully read until the wee hours of 10 or 11 before calling it a night. Having a book next to my bed is something that I have always had, and as long as I can check out books, will I continue to have until they pry my library card from my cold dead hand. As a young adult, I loved the Hardy boys and the bizarre Phyllis Whitney mysteries. When I moved to high school, Stephen King blew my mind, and I actually feigned sickness to stay home and finish reading “The Stand” when I was a sophomore. Sorry Mom and Dad.
Flash forward a few years and you can understand why I had to hold back a tear as I signed Anna up for her first library card when she was two and my hand quivered with excitement as I passed down the fresh card to her little hands. At that age, she didn’t pick the books, and could frankly care less, but it was fun to have her play in the kid’s area and to be around so much information. Her passing the card to the librarian to check out her books may have been a forgettable moment for her, but it’s one that I will cherish forever.
If you love books, or know someone who is a librarian, do yourself and them a favor and pick up this book. It is a joy. It’s the story of young Melvin and his unquenchable thirst for knowledge. His daily forays into the library allows him to interact with the three (all female, natch) librarians who dote on him and cater to his every question. The book is one big stereotype, but for those of us who love to read and are library whores, it’s pure gold. The plot is paper thin, but there were moments when I was choked up reading the book to Anna the first time.
I remember being very wasted one night in Toledo after class, as the bartender at the Westgate Lounge said he would give anyone a free drink if they would show a library card. I was in college at the time and flopped six cards on the bar for him to check out. I had the Toledo, Perrysburg, and Rossford cards, as well as cards from the University, the Art Museum, and one from Maumee as good measure. For once, being a book nerd paid off.
You can find more about the book here:
http://www.amazon.com/Boy-Who-Was-Raised-Librarians/dp/1561453919
Or you can make me very happy and take a moment, and a child, and go to your nearest library and ask a librarian to help you find the book. You won’t be sorry.