I spent my second grade summer reading several picture books and discovered the small green books of Beatrix Potter. They fit in my hands perfectly. I think the love I had back then developed into the reason why I collect miniature books today. School began too early.
I was in third grade with a teacher who reminded me of my Mrs. Beesley doll at home. Weekly Readers were given every Friday. I loved them. Quick articles that held my attention span. People did not talk about attention spans then like they do now. My mind began to wonder that year thinking of several things at one time wanting to get up and explore but did not dare due to the consequences. I suppose having the attention span of a hummingbird helped me do well at my job decades later as an elementary school librarian.
Something new was being developed in our school that year…a makeshift library. It was located in a classroom where we had gone for second grade. There were metal shelves put up and some of them were halfway filled with books. I don’t remember it being decorated, had story-times or any library lessons. A white-haired lady with the face of a dried apple doll ran it. She was not nice. She was not helpful. As a matter of fact, I have never known her not to yell. She yelled pointing to where we were to return our books. She yelled for us to hurry up and pick a book. It was not that she had a loud voice. She just yelled. No one talked in that room. No one dared to speak in that room with her ready to pounce.
I remember one day I was looking for a book on the shelf where I have been getting my books when I was verbally attacked. “You cannot get a book, because you did not return your book from last time!” she shrieked from across the room holding up a card reading off the title. I stood there not sure what to say, as I had returned that book last week. I looked over and saw the book I had returned. “My book is right here,” I said starting to take my book over to her. “You are not supposed to put the books back! How many times have I told you children that the books go back here!” she said pointing to a table. She hurriedly went towards me snatching the book out of my hand and putting the card in the back of the book in its pocket. I did not put the book back on the shelf. I had put it where she told us to put them. I was so upset that I could not speak.
“Hurry up, and pick a book!” she snarled at me. I blindly picked the book nearest me and went over to her desk where she quickly took out the card from the back and shoved it towards me after stamping the due date on it and on the due slip attached to the back of my book. I printed my name on the card and took my new book seeing that the book I just returned was still sitting in the pile of returned books on the table. I was too scared to point that out to her. I was too scared to tell her that I always put my books on the table. I always obeyed the rules. I was a good girl.
I stood in line quietly. I never wanted to come back. I never wanted to read again.