Fiction Friday

Fiction/Memoir Mash-Up: At Home in the Library

Okay, so I have designated Friday for fiction, but I seem to be having trouble with endings lately, endings to my short stories and my novel in progress. This is why today I choose to speak about fiction as a topic, while writing about my past experiences with it and how it has influenced my life, because I love it dearly and hope to write more of it, when the writer’s block subsides of course.
I have been thinking back a lot lately on my fiction roots and trying to recall how it shaped my life early on. The first image that came to my mind was the library.
My mom jumped into her role as a parent to two blind children from day one it seems. She learned braille so that she could start teaching my brother and myself from a young age. She was soon using the clear sticky paper to cover up the pages of print books with braille words so we could read them. She found lots of children’s stories and picture books with bright pictures and large print.
She took us to the library in our town early on. I still recall the big old church the library was housed in. I would step into that big open space, with its high ceilings, and the smell of church mingled with that of rows and rows of shelved books and the creaky floors.
I knew my favourite isles and where to find my favourite books. I loved the quiet atmosphere and the rules I knew must be followed and the beeping sound, as the librarian would check out my choices. It was from a young age that I revered that job and wanted to be a librarian someday.
When we were told, in school, to draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we grew up, I always drew myself behind a desk, shelves of books all around me. I always looked forward to this particular assignment because it combined two of my favourite things, things I thought I might want to be when I grew up: a librarian and/or an artist.
My favourite books as a child were anything colourful by Aric Carle because he had books and stories about nature and beautiful things: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Papa, Please Get The Moon For Me, and many others. I always knew my father would bring it to me if he could and believe me, I thought about asking him a couple times.
In kindergarten I attended a tiny school in the village near my house. We had a small section of the front hall set up as the library for the first few years I was there. It consisted of a square of carpet and a few shelves of books running along it with a chair for the storyteller to sit.
After a few years they decided to bring in a portable. This provided a bit more room and seemed to fit the size of the school much better.
I loved the hours we got to spend out of class and in the library, whatever it was we were doing or reading. We had Braille Club there, organized by my braille teacher. I loved being surrounded by all those books.
I began by reading Clifford The Big Red Dog, by Norman Bridwell,. Clifford is the official mascot of Scholastic Books. I loved getting their newsprint flyer full of book selections we could order from. I looked forward to when the library would put on a book fair; all those books laid out on tables and shelves was a welcome change from math or science class. I would have happily browsed there for hours.
Starting from kindergarten we were bused over to the big school for music, gym, and library and I soon found my favourite books.
The big library at the big school had a corner separate from the shelves of older age books, just for the youngest children. One day I came across a stack of books, little paperback square books with large dark writing and brightly coloured pictures on the cover, in a box in the middle of many others. These were the Little Mr. and Miss books, written by Roger Hargreaves.
I read as many different ones as the librarian had in stock or could possibly order in: Mr. Messy, Miss Bossy, Mr. Happy, Little Miss Scatterbrained. An older girl would read them to me on the long bus ride home. The janitor at the primary school began to get more of these and would slip them to me at the end of the school day. I found them in hard cover at the library in town. I could read the large print and wanted to draw like Roger drew. Each character had a colour and a distinct shape I could immediately recognize. His plot and settings were beautifully illustrated and each story brimmed with humour and a lesson to teach.
There always was and still is something I find greatly comforting and soothing about being in a library, whether it was a tiny makeshift one, a portable, in a school or out. I chose library club as my extracurricular activity and loved the repetitive task of sorting the books.
Now that I have little nieces and nephews I have the urge to write stories for them, that they can enjoy and use as a beginning of a love for reading develops in them. I love to hear that my niece looks forward to going to the library and checking out books. I want to try my hand at writing children’s fiction and I have a few ideas, but like my other projects I can’t seem to come up with the endings.
Whether it’s fiction or non, it doesn’t matter. I feel like I am at home amongst the shelves of books, surrounded and immersed in the smell of them. I feel like I am where I belong, that I am at home in the library.
What was some of your favourite children’s fiction when you were a child? What did you want to be when you grew up? What memories do you have of the library as a child?


4 thoughts on “Fiction/Memoir Mash-Up: At Home in the Library

  1. I remember reading all those books to my children as they were growing up. Somewhere I have a photo of my youngest with Clifford, the Big Red Dog at a Scholastic Book Fair at school. I don’t remember any of those from my own childhood, but I remember how excited I was when I got my own library card. Heck, I still get excited about going to the library all these years later!

  2. Hello
    I belong to Asia , I have read some different books , I wanted to veterinary medicine as I always loved pets and animals so I wanted to help them when I saw them suffer… but then I changed my mind and came towards education. Library was also my love , I love to go in library and check books and read….
    I hope that you will write something for kids and I will definitely bring a copy for my daughter…
    I wish you good Luck.

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