I don't have one librarian who started me writing, but librarians were a huge part of my childhood.
Laurel's favorite branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library.
My parents split up when I was in the second grade, and we were pretty broke. So, since I was "old enough to take care of myself" at the wise old age of 8, I didn't have a nanny or after-school program. (Mom had gone back to school and was working full time.) Instead, after school every day, I walked across the street to the Roland Park branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore.I'd sit on the steps and eat my snack, then go inside, find a chair, and read until my mom would, in theory, come pick me up.
Well, you can imagine that the little girl who sits alone every day reading fairy tales gets noticed, so after a while the librarians kind of adopted me. And put me to work! Boy, did I learn to shelve books! I also read stories to younger kids sometimes. But most of all, the librarians just treated me like a young friend. They'd give me things to read and help me with my homework, and talk to me.
No wonder I decided the following year to "become rich and famous writing books and plays for children."
Ha! In fact, I credit the librarians of the Enoch Pratt libraries in my acknowledgements page, as my babysitters, mentors, and friends...
But what I find myself thinking about, when I dwell on the role they played in my life, is the fact that this really doesn't happen so much anymore. I think if I sent my kids off unattended to the library today, I'd get arrested. And I find that sad in a way. I don't mean to suggest that we shouldn't watch our kids and care for them, but there was a freedom, an independence, a discovery in those years— eating my snack alone, trusting strangers, searching out my own reading materials in the stacks—and I don't think kids get as much of that today.
Which is ironic, since children's books are full of just those kinds of experiences...
What a great way to nurture a writer! Thanks, Laurel. Tune in tomorrow to catch Laurel in a lie and win a book.