Monday, May 23, 2011


In spite of what this picture appears to say, I was not an early reader. Obviously it was taken in a portrait studio and I’m sure the book was just a prop. However, I can’t help but feel it was a very prophetic image, for as you know, I certainly did become a reader.

I’m going to use this photo today in a new blog I’m working on for our local “Friends of the Library” organization. The caption will be “It’s never too early to get them started.”

This will be a different kind of “Friends of the Library” blog than most of what I see on the internet. My goal will be to make it less a PR piece and more a record that shows how much fun our group has in supporting our library. “FUN WITH FRIENDS” is the blog name. I hope to engage the blog reader not only in supporting the usual fund-raising endeavors that our Friends of the Library have but also in experiencing that a library not just a building with bookshelves but a center of learning and discovery. And fun. Anyway, I’ll give it a try.

This picture, taken of me in 1937 when I was about two years old, says visually that it is good to put a book in the hand of a small child. Although it probably was the photographer’s idea to put this book in my hand, my mother did it first. As far back as I can remember I see my mother sitting on the couch between me and my little sister reading to us. In those days there were no Golden Books nor Dr. Suess Cat in the Hat books. She read to us from Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Aesop’s Fables. She especially loved poetry and she read to us from Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses and from her own personal favorite One Hundred and One Famous Poems, an anthology published in 1929.

My sister and I loved these times and these books. And of course our memory of books and of reading is intimately intertwined with our love for our mother, now long gone.

On my own bookshelf I still have her favorite poetry book. Below it is the poem my sister and I asked her to read most often.

Little Boy Blue
by Eugene Field (1850-1895)

The little toy dog is covered with dust,
But sturdy and stanch he stands;
And the little toy soldier is red with rust,
And his musket moulds in his hands.
Time was when the little toy dog was new,
And the soldier was passing fair;
And that was the time when our Little Boy Blue
Kissed them and put them there.

"Now, don't you go till I come," he said,
"And don't you make any noise!"
So, toddling off to his trundle-bed,
He dreamt of the pretty toys;
And, as he was dreaming, an angel song
Awakened our Little Boy Blue---
Oh! the years are many, the years are long,
But the little toy friends are true!

Ay, faithful to Little Boy Blue they stand,
Each in the same old place---
Awaiting the touch of a little hand,
The smile of a little face;
And they wonder, as waiting the long years through
In the dust of that little chair,
What has become of our Little Boy Blue,
Since he kissed them and put them there.

My little sis and I always had tears in our eyes when she finished. The words put images in our mind...and we understood and felt those words. This was guaranteed to turn us into readers.

I am trusting that our little local library will benefit from additional exposure via "FUN WITH FRIENDS" and that our Friends will grow in size and thus in value to the library.

No comments: