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Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Hunger for Books, A Passion for Libraries

Kira-Kira. Did you read it? (If you haven't, we have it here at MLC, ready and waiting!) It came out back in 2004 and subsequently won the coveted Newbery Medal in 2005. I cried when I read it (a sure sign of a good book, right?) I've been perusing one of our new books, In the Words of the Winners, which includes the speeches for the winners of the Newbery and Caldecott Medals from 2001-2010. Cynthia Kadohata, author of Kira-Kira, gave a speech that, when I read it, nearly slapped me in the face. She talks about a love for reading as a child:
When either second or third grade - I forget which - was coming to an end, I had fallen in love with the reader we used in school. I told my parents that I would not return the book. I loved it too much. I cried. I ranted. I raged. I wanted that book. Finally my parents decided that my mother, who'd taken typing in high school and owned an old manual typewriter she practiced on, should type up the book before we returned it. I still remember the Xs all over her typing errors.
Do you remember those books as a child? The ones you didn't want to return to the public or school library? The ones that you didn't want to end? That burning hunger for books is born young, and I had it. I dreamt up new adventures for book characters that didn't have sequels. I shirked homework and stayed up late in order to read "just one more page." My parents encouraged my reading (and made me finish my homework.) This is one of the ways they did it:
Our parents could not have afforded to buy us all the books we read as children. Our parents walked across the doorway of that first library holding our hands because they knew our futures resided in that building, as I believe the futures of my son and indeed all Americans reside in those buildings. Libraries fed our passion as children, and feed it still.
Thank you, Mom. Thank you, Dad. Thank you, all the authors of books I devoured as a child. And thank you, libraries.

Association for Library Service to Children. In the Words of the Winners. Chicago, IL: American Library Association, 2011. Print.

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