“Collect books, even if you don’t plan on reading them right away. Nothing is more important than an unread library.” John Waters
The summer before I started 8th grade, my best friend Kenny & I would ride our bikes to the El Cajon Public Library. Kenny had a 6th teacher who had introduced him to The Great Brain book series by John D. Fitzgerald. The books were about a young school age boy and his family living in the Midwest during the late 1880’s, and the creative ways he’d get out of difficult situations. I wanted to do everything Kenny did, so I made it my mission to read all of The Great Brain books over my summer vacation. I’d scour the card catalogue searching for each edition and would immerse myself in the adventures of the characters. Kenny and I laughed at how The Great Brain would ingeniously get out of every challenge that came his way. My summer days raced by spending time at the library and I succeeded in reading the entire series of The Great Brain books.
A few months later while I was listening to the radio (it must’ve been a fairly sophisticated program for an 8th grade boy to be listening to), I had heard of the book Yes I Can, an autobiography of the entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. I had always been a fan of his singing and dancing and thought the book would be an interesting read. I rode my trusty bike back to the El Cajon Public Library and found the book buried in the stacks. I can imagine as I checked out the book, the librarian being curious of my choice of literature. I spent the next several days reading about Sammy Davis’s life as a black entertainer and his challenges and successes working in the primarily white entertainment industry of the 1040’s, 50’s and 60’s, his biracial marriage and his conversion to Judaism. It was a moving and inspirational book and it has had an impact on the person I am today.
I think fondly of my friend Kenny and of the El Cajon Public Library for helping me to develop such a thirst for reading.
Where did your thirst for reading come from? Was it a favorite teacher’s reading aloud to you? Was it an old favorite you discovered while perusing the local library? How are you developing a thirst for reading in your students? Enthusiastically sharing an old favorite book with a child may be just the incentive to wet their whistle.