When I was three, my “Gramma” filled my world with books. Books on the human body and animal anatomy, books on hibernation and space. Some of the books were beyond me vocabulary wise but they were books none-the-less, and I absorbed them quite sponge-like.
My husband and I have been unpacking and in doing so, I discovered boxes and boxes of these books from my “Gramma Lanoe”–books I’d used in my classroom as nonfiction resources and fascinating reads. Since I’m no longer teaching, it was time to pass these resources (and others) along to other teachers. I donated 16+ boxes of teaching materials and books to a local school. While a part of me felt the loss of those books, the loss wasn’t real. The knowledge I gained from them as a child is still within my head, and the love of knowledge and giving nature my grandmother instilled in me is still here as well.
Yesterday was my birthday, and while I received some awesome presents, it reminded me of those books and all the gifts I’ve been given over the years.
The gift of reading has to be the best one.
It’s a gift I give when I can (by way of books, both mine and others’), but also a gift that didn’t end when my grandmother died.
I stumbled across this bookmark today while unpacking:
This bookmark was for Book Quest, a program put forward by the 1984 Florida Summer Library Program, which I encountered while living in Gainesville, FL. One of the best parts of this program was something called the Book Mobile.
This large bus drove into our neighborhood apartment complex and allowed adults and children to go inside and borrow books. You didn’t have to have money or a library card–just a thirst for the written word.
I’d pick out several books and have them finished long before the bus came back around a few weeks later, but I lived for the Book Mobile. As a child living in poverty, it was my access to fiction. It was the place I discovered Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, Ramona, and even Shakespeare.
Oddly enough, the first “Book Mobile” dates back to 1857, where a merchant and philanthropist traveled to 8 towns with a wagon of books. (Image is in the public domain – By Unknown from Orton, Ian (1980).)
While the Book Mobile I knew isn’t operating anymore, it made me smile today to find this bookmark and to remember one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received.
It also reminds me of Jolabokaflod, or the Christmas Book Flood of Iceland. In this tradition, Icelanders give books for Christmas and then spend the day reading them.
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, Kwanzaa, or something else, I hope that your time is full of giving, of love, and of reading.
Me? I’ll be chasing down some dragons and dreaming of the Book Mobile. 😉