First Trip to the Library

I have just discovered that by hitting ‘Enter’ while holding down the shift key I can start a line directly below my present line
like this instead of double-spacing my paragraphs

like WordPress normally does.

This will be
nice the next time I write
a poem.

***

“Libraries are just civilized. They are just a part of civilized society, and we need one.”

This was Scottie’s Dad.

Scottie, who got his political sensibilities nearly as much from  his libertarian friend Fred as from his own Father, disagreed.

“It’s $200.00 per family per year more on their property taxes. Why should non-library users be forced to pay that?”  Apparently a majority of his fellowtownsmen feel the same because this town has steadfastly refused to pay a library tax and now if we want library priveleges the non-residential cards are going up to $200.00 per year in 2009. My MIL got in under the line and was able to get me one for considerably less, as a Christmas present, so now I have access to one library.

I think a library can be funded through a combination of taxes, tax breaks, donations and fines, and that we could start one in the back of a truck and then when it got too big we could rent one of these empty storefronts.

But I’m not likely to be deciding the issue so I’m just grateful I have a card for a year.

***

Johnny and I went to the library for the first time today, and as we read preschool books I discovered that he knows all his numbers to ten and the sounds of all the letters, not including long sounds of vowels.

I’m not proud. I’m  not excited. I’m perfectly prepared, and always have been, to accept the fact that my child is normal and average. I have never had designs on his future and frankly this does nothing to change that.

I can’t help wondering, of course, whether, if I treat words the same way I treated letters,  he might be reading by his third birthday. I know people have taught their children to read at three and it always seemed impossible.

My curiosity on this point is purely academic. I just wonder.

After all, it’s a matter of natural inclination, and doing things for the sake of delight. I’m determined that Johnny will read for the delight of it, and not to feed my parental ambitions.

And then he’ll probably read Greek and Latin and Russian for the delight of it. Maybe a little Chinese, a dash of Italian. Why not French while he’s at it? Just to see if he can do it, you know. That way when he graduates from Oxford I can send him to woo the wife I’ll have picked out for him in the langauge of romance.

Yawn.

3 thoughts on “First Trip to the Library

  1. Hee hee, nice to see you’re not buying into the “my child must be above average” thing that so many parents have going on! I used to think that if a child could read by 4, they must have diligent parents. No, it just depends on the child’s interest (as well as the parents’ willingness to feed the interest, and their amount of spare time). There’s a vicious rumour going around, among parents, that literacy skills are your child’s central skill set and must at all costs be developed early. I think the virtues are completely forgotten by the current education system.

    It’s amusing to watch my 3-year-old. She only just turned 3 and has an incredible vocabulary – was speaking in full sentences before she turned 1. But reading and writing? Not likely for the near future, because she is apparently so smart that she won’t even listen to someone else trying to teach her about letters. She actually thinks she knows them already, and will say “No, no, I’ll show YOU the letter ‘a’…” and then proceed to draw her own random squiggle. But many people ask whether I am teaching her to read and write, since she seems so bright. Er… I’ll let her do that when she’s ready (and humble enough to accept tuition? God have mercy when she gets to school…).

    It’s such a wonderful thing to let children’s natural interests develop to the point where, just this evening, I couldn’t find my 7-year-old for dinner. Finally I found her hiding behind the sofa on a soft rug, reading a book, completely unaware that I was looking for her. I love it! I haven’t pushed them kids to read but I do borrow kids’ books and read them each a story each night, and almost every time they ask during the day. It’s actually a decent time commitment, reading stories.

    I use our public library constantly (about 50 books a month – up to $1000 worth of books we didn’t have to buy) with my 4 children. But I think I would be willing to pay for that; $200 a year seems a steal. Apparently libraries must a ‘free’ public service so that underprivileged families can use them. But I must admit that I never see those families at the library. I don’t know why.

    I find it interesting that local communities in the US can vote on whether or not they pay discreet taxes for specific items such as libraries. In Australia we don’t get that kind of choice. What’s the population of your town? Libraries are incredibly expensive, at least if they’re quality and up-to-date, and well-managed. Just interested, that’s all! It’s really none of my business!

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  2. Ah, the library. I have great memories of visiting the library; though, not so much in the last few years. I’ve been rather busy, so I either don’t take the time to go, myself, or if I do, I keep books way too long. To avoid the fines, and since God has been gracious with the funds, I prefer to buy most of the books I read. I can always resell them later, and I don’t always buy them new, anyway.

    But, still, libraries are a boon to any society. What a wealth of resources they are. Even if some of the books are bedraggled a bit, I still appreciate the contents. Even with the sludge of poorly written pulp fiction one of our local libraries has, and the apathetic, or even hostile attitude broadcasted by the churlish librarians (same library), my visits are always a breath of fresh air to my hurried soul. I would maintain this attitude, and my willingness to pay taxes, even if, as perhaps will be the case in the future, the liberalism becomes a deep enough cesspool to require waders. I say this, because, even in those situations, one can at least ascertain the nonsense straight from the horses’ mouth.

    As a parting comment, I leave with you the words of my second son and fourth child, then four or five. “I love the library. You can find a book you like, check it out, and then take it home and look at it, and then take it back and do it all over again.” (I paraphrase.)

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  3. Selena, I think you have a lot of insight. I also think its true that reading later or earlier doesn’t determine how enthusiastic you will be, with the exception that kids who are forced to read before they are ready often hate it and avoid books for years afterward.

    In spite of the thrill I get every time Johnny learns something new, I think what I’m most proud of him for is being a happy child. Happiness is something I have to work at so hard that I continually thank God he’s so good at it.

    I don’t know if local communities can opt out of the library tax in other states. Sometimes these things vary from state to state because (theoretically at least) certain powers are given to the federal government and the rest are left to the individual states. It’s been a long time, though, since the federal government began greedily gobbling up whatever powers it could and constitution or not there’s nothing a state or individual person can do about it. I don’t get too excercised over it, though, because it seems so inevitable. In my opinion the Great American Experiment is fated to be short lived and not as successful as it once seemed.

    Scott, my early memories of the library are much like your son’s. I think I was eight, though, the first time we went to a decent library where they had books for children. Maybe it was the first time my Mom let me go off on my own somewhere, I don’t know, but I’ve never gotten over the pleasure of loosening my grip on time and wandering through the stacks, taking books out and reading a few paragraphs and putting them back, and maybe taking a pile or two home.

    It is lovely when you can buy the books you want. I had quite a collection going myself, mostly vintage books, children’s books, and theology books, when we lived in WI. But once we had to leave 2/3 behind when we started moving around, I realized I had to slow down. Now I only acquire a book when I am completely convinced of its necessity to my developement and the durability of its interest to me, both.

    There’s one book in the effort to acquire which I’m quite frustrated. (How’s that for a sentence?) It’s called “The Timeless Way of Building,” by Christopher Alexander. Apparently it’s a sort of platonist theory of architecture, rendered in modern yet serious langauge. I’ve only read a few pages on Google books and some very positive reviews on Amazoncom but I have a feeling it will be worth reading.

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