Friday, May 21, 2021

by Kristi Scorcio

I was always so jealous of the children in the story books who pulled their red wagons or rode their bikes to the local library every week all summer long.  

If I’d met you for the first time, back in the 70’s, and you obviously didn’t live in my town because I knew most everyone who lived there,  I’d have felt a little bit sorry for you.  My hometown was the best place to grow up.  It wasn’t big (unless you call 350 people big) and it wasn’t the kind of place that had impressive sites or famous businesses. It was filled with good, hardworking, do-anything-to-help kinds of people. But we had no public library. Most small towns in that area did not. Sure, we had a school library that was open from September to May.  But for me - that just wasn’t enough! 

Legend has it that at four years old I was begging, begging, begging for just one more book when my weary dad finally announced “If you can write the word book on the grocery list, I will buy you one.”  And so I did. 

I have spent all of my life wanting just one more book. 

To fill my book hunger, I borrowed books from cousins and friends, and asked for books for Christmas gifts.  I read any hand-me-down magazines that found their way into our house. I even read potato and sugar beet growers’ magazines that arrived for my farmer dad and sometimes actually had stories about farming families in them.

When I was about 12 years old, my parents began driving my siblings and me to a city library about 30 miles from our little town. I’d love to report that I found all kinds of books to read, but I was a shy girl and so I hung back, only looking at the squeaky spinning paper back racks inside the front doors.  I probably checked out a few but  I didn’t venture far because I wasn’t sure where to go or where to look. And  I thought I couldn’t seek help from the librarians. For some crazy reason, I felt like I should already know my way around. (I work in a library now and always keep my eye out for those kids standing on the edges. They are my people and I now have the power to help them.)

Eventually I was off to college where I thought I would live at the big wonderful library, but found instead a life dictated by syllabuses and lesson plans and to-do lists as I jumped through the hoops to get my degree.  Of course I went to the library, but I was so overwhelmed that I just looked for the shortest book to read for my term paper and the limit of magazine articles we could include. 

A few years later, I got married and we began our family. I still was shy but I also really wanted to raise readers.  And so one day I swallowed my pride, made my way to our city library (so far from the town I grew up in) and asked for the librarian’s help.  She gave me a tour and answered my questions without even one eye roll.  

Now a whole new world opened up for me. Picture books. We checked out stacks of them from the local library as I read them one by one to my children.  And then read them over and over and over again as my children fell in love with them.

We progressed to chapter books when they were way too young for them. Only they weren’t, as was proven one cold winter night when our three year old woke to tell his dad about that part in Little House in the Big Woods when it was night time and Ma thought the dark shape was a cow and she slapped a bear!  Yes, that was me, high fiving myself.  He was comprehending what I was reading! 

I learned more about the library each time we visited there. Together, my children and I learned that when we found an author we loved, we looked for everything else the author had written. When we found a subject we wanted to know more about, we found as many books as we could about it. We learned to use the computers to do searches. If someone suggested a good book, I wrote down the title and author. I even learned how to request books that were only available from other libraries.  Amazingly in the whole process, I began to remember author’s names, a feat I thought would prove to be impossible.

My children and I would go to the library often. Always with the rule that they could check out ten books each. I prided myself on being a pretty consistent parent but my library book rule was broken every time.  Every time.  How could I say No to one or three or ten more books? 

As we read and read and read, I discovered children’s classics along with my children. I was almost as excited as they were as we read the Chronicles of Narnia, the Mouse and the Motorcycle and The Trumpeter of the Swan. 

All of my children are grown. All are readers. When one of our sons moved out, he bought book shelves before he bought a bed. Could I be more proud? 

I laughed out loud the day when I realized that I was reading those stories to me just as much as I was reading  to them. That little “one more book, please” girl had grown to be a “one more book, please” mom. 

Miles away from where I live now,  my grandlittles are perched on their couch while we video chat. I read Caps for Sale and Little Bear while they listen attentively. They always request that I read our taped and retaped copy of  Pancakes for Breakfast.  

I don’t know if they will ever write “book” on their daddy’s errand list, but I do know they beg for one more book every time.  Just like their daddy.  And just like me. 

Kristi Scorcio is a member of the Fond du Lac Public Library Express Branch staff and circulation department.