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Posted on December 4, 2014 at 6:00 am
The purple plastic coin purse with the kitty face didn’t hold much, but then again six-year-olds travel light. It held two quarters, some pennies, a tissue, a cherry Chapstick and my first library card.
Clutching the purse with one hand, I ran my fingers across the book spines standing sentinel on the shelves. “How many can I check out?” I asked.
“Let’s start with three,” replied my mom.
I read all three before we even reached home. Like a hungry Oliver Twist, I said, “Please, I want some more!”
And back we went. Thus began my lifelong love affair with libraries.
My dad was in the military, so we moved a lot. But in every new town, I found a library. Though the size, scope and style of the buildings varied, the Dewey Decimal system remained unchanged. That coupled with shelves full of stories made libraries a refuge in each new town—a home when my own house was constantly changing.
We settled in Spokane when I was a teenager. In the midst of the fun and excitement of school activities, I still made time for weekly library visits. I didn’t need the physical refuge of the building anymore, but I craved the emotional and mental escape that books provided.
And then came marriage and children. The library offered an anchor in the often chaotic world of this stay home mom. Suddenly, my library visits revolved around storytime. With joy I introduced each of my four sons to the magical world of reading. At the library, I charted their progress from board books to picture books to chapter books. I introduced them to my childhood favorites like Curious George, Frances, and Little Bear. In turn, they introduced me to new friends like Hank the Cowdog and Harry Potter.
All too soon, my youngest started kindergarten and I went back to work. No time now, to browse among the shelves picking and choosing books with delightful abandon. Instead, I discovered Goodreads and a new way to fill my book craving.
Using Goodreads allows me to connect with friends and follow my favorite authors from the convenience of home or office. I add books to my “to-read” list and then search for them online at Spokane County Libraries. Once I find the books I want, I place holds for them and pick them up at my neighborhood branch.
I no longer have that purple plastic coin purse, but I still have a library card. It’s a passport to my childhood and a key to future reading adventures.
Cindy Hval is a columnist and correspondent for The Spokesman-Review newspaper. Her “Front Porch” column offers humorous, often poignant commentary about life, love and raising sons—not necessarily in that order. Her first book, War Bonds: Love Stories From the Greatest Generation will be published by Casemate in February 2015.