She wasn’t sure when she fell in love with reading, but she certainly knew where. She was almost four years old when she began attending library school. The librarians were readers, the first orators she ever experienced, and they made each story come alive. Their voices were captivating and the picture books they held up merely appendages to the tales they wove in her mind. She looked forward to the day when she would be allowed to choose her own book and take it home.
Later in life she would associate the library with one of the very first books she read on her own. It was Rufus M. by Eleanor Estes. It was the story of the youngest Moffat boy, Rufus, and his experience with trying to obtain his very own library card.
Even as an adult she could visualize the book cover in her mind’s eye. She could vividly recall the scene when Rufus, sent away by the librarian who refused him a coveted library card because he couldn’t write his name on the application, had returned holding the smudged application with his printed name. His mama had helped him print it. But the library was closed and Rufus, a four year old who was not to be dissuaded, is thrilled to find an open basement window. Eagerly he enters, only to discover it was the coal chute! The exasperated librarian, impressed with his persistence, overlooks the indiscretions and the dirt and grants him the precious library card. Rufus is allowed to check out his very first library book.
Nothing else in this world, not even memories of her own children, stick with her the way some of those early impressions did. Once, while standing on a Honolulu bus, she was reading a passenger’s book from over their left shoulder as they sat below her. After less than a minute she knew the book, so vivid was her memory of those words. It wasn’t a classic or a book everyone would know, but she knew it! The memory of the book brought her back to the story instantly and she thought to herself, what kind of power is that?
Perhaps that experience encapsulates why being an author is enticing and also intimidating. For isn’t the ultimate goal of an author to be able to create sensory memories through words for the reader; not to leave a mere impression, but a lasting memory?
*“Rufus M. cover first edition” by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rufus_M._cover_first_edition.jpg#/media/File:Rufus_M._cover_first_edition.jpg