I can’t remember the first thing my parents bought me, or what happened to it, but I can remember the things I did with my parents as I was growing up. I remember fishing, camping and swimming at the beach, but one of my most beloved memories is reading with my mother.
We read “Alice in Wonderland” together. It was brown with gold letters and I was certain that it was an expensive book. The pages were not covered in the traditional glossy and colorful images I saw in magazines or comic books. She would read and then describe what she saw in her mind or ask me what I saw. It was like we created our own Wonderland. That book allowed my mother and I to create a world together. We were safe and cozy in bed, but at the same time, we traveled to an amazing new world with fantastic people. And the best part of it was that my mother and I did this together.
I’m all grown up now with children of my own, but I still have that same book. No, it isn’t real leather and the letters aren’t real gold, but the book is priceless to me. As the new children’s librarian for Robeson County, I have the wonderful opportunity to help others experience that. I see the delight in a child’s eyes when he or she finds the perfect book, and I watch the parent take the child by the hand and lead him or her to the circulation desk. It’s more than just getting a thing, a thing that will be forgotten one day, it’s doing something together and that’s what a book can do.
A book can open new worlds, teach new things and remind us of where we come from and show us where we can go. It can make us forget that we’re in pain, or that we miss someone, if even for a few moments. A book can’t be just a thing, because things are forgotten, misplaced or discarded. A book becomes part of us the moment we read it. True, the pages tear and the book itself is lost to age or neglect, but what it did for us remains.
Our library has more than 13,000 books for children and young adults, including a brand new Spanish collection, and provides inviting places to sit and read together. We have children’s computers with engaging programs that parent and child can work on together. We also host movies and programs to further enhance this parent-and-child adventure.
I’m so very proud of what I do as a children’s librarian. I’m happy when I come to work and eager to share my day with my family when I return home. I welcome patrons to the children’s library knowing that I’m about to make a child and parent happy. And all of this was because my mother read a book with me. I invite every parent or grandparent to come to the library and see what a book can do.
Lisa Bowden is the Youth Services Librarian at the Robeson County Public Library.