Literacy is often taken for granted by those of us who are literate. We’ve been reading for so long that we really can’t remember a time when we weren’t able to read. For many of us this came at such an early age that we really can’t remember a time before we could read. Reading provides the young with one of their first tastes of independence, it provides them with the opportunity to expand their own knowledge and learn about things that are interesting to them and not their parents or siblings. For many of us, the first big step in independence came when we got our first library card – we now had an entire building of books with which to satisfy our curiosity and were no longer forced to read what our parents gave us.
I know a girl who exemplifies this desire for independence better than most. When she was 7, her family moved half a block down from the branch library. Determined to exercise her independence, she presented herself one day to the librarian and requested a library card. Since she was alone, the librarian informed her that just like anyone else requesting a library card, she would need proof that she lived within the district. Unsure of what this meant, she asked the librarian what would be considered as proof. To this, the librarian informed her that if she had a letter at her house that had been addressed to her, this would qualify as proof.
Excited to know the requirements of getting a library card, this little girl rushed home to accomplish the task before her. As we all know though, most 7 year-olds don’t really get any mail, except for maybe on their birthday. Not one to be deterred, our hero came up with the perfect solution.
Envelope in hand she rushed back to the library and proudly handed it to the librarian. I can only imagine the reaction of this librarian when she looked down at this little girl with the smile that was one part pride and one part mischief and then looked at the envelope. An envelope that had been carefully crafted in what was the greatest scheme in this young girls life. It had been sealed, ripped open, addressed to the little girl and even had a return address on it, both in the same handwriting, the handwriting of a 7 year old.
The pride and satisfaction that was felt by owning a library card was all that mattered for this little girl. Having it opened up a whole new world to her and was one of the first steps in taking charge of her own learning. I would encourage everyone to approach reading with the same childlike curiosity and desire to learn that we did that first time we held our very first library card.
Here are a few books that two of authors think might inspire those long lost emotions in you like they did in them.
1. American Conspiracies: Lie, Lies, and More Dirty Lies the Government Tells Us – Jesse Ventura
2. The Working Poor: Invisible in America – David K. Shipler
3. Anna in the Tropics – Nilo Cruz
4. Aesop’s Fables
5. The Autobiography of Malcolm X – With Alex Haley
6. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
7. The Bible
1. Honky – Dalton Conley
2. The Dead Emcee Scrolls – Saul Williams
3. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
4. Racism With Out Racism: Color-Blind Racism & the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the U.S – Eduardo Bonilla-Sillva
5. The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism – Naomi Klein
6. Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America – Juan Gonzalez
7. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t – Jim Collins
Image by Jennerally of Flickr