To celebrate Children's Book Week, I asked teachers and librarians to respond to the prompt - "Books can take you anywhere..." Over the course of the week, I will be sharing their responses. Up first is Tammy Blackwell.
When I was a kid, I lived in the middle of nowhere. This isn't an exaggeration. Our farm was roughly thirty acres and was surrounded by fields of corn and soy beans and cows. I don't know how close our nearest neighbor was, but it was far, far away. On the upside, my parents were fully onboard with me wandering for hours in the fields, woods, and creeks since it wasn't exactly like someone could wander up and snatch me. On the downside, I wasn't really an outdoorsy kid. Miles of nature didn't appeal to me, which left me feeling more like a trapped loner than a free explorer.
My salvation during those years came from the Bookmobile. My parents both worked, and my aunt who babysat me didn't drive much. She did, however, live in the actual little, tiny, we-have-five-houses-and-a-store town where once a month a big truck filled with books would set up at the Methodist church. I lived for Bookmobile days. While my cousin and her hooligan friends were swinging off grape vines behind the church (and breaking their arms, I should mention), I climbed up those metal steps with my aunt and entered a magical world. In reality, the Bookmobile can't hold many books, but to my tiny eyes it was an endless buffet of one-way tickets out of my country bumpkin life. Thanks to the Bookmobile, I was able to hang out with friends who actually understood me (the Babysitters Club), solve mysteries (Nancy Drew), and live a glamorous life in California (Sweet Valley). I may have been physically stuck in rural Kentucky, but those books took me all over the world.
Now, as a library employee for the same system whose Bookmobile was my salvation all those years ago, I can always spot the kids who are looking for that same escape. It's in their eyes when they walk through the door; it's in the way they caress the spines of the books with reverence, carefully selecting their next destination. Our world changes rapidly, and places that were once empty fields are now the location of overly full subdivisions. Even the farm where I grew up now has visible neighbors. But having people in sight doesn't mean you're not alone and isolated. Books will always be there for those kids, and for that, I'm truly grateful.
Thanks Tammy for sharing your thoughts about how books can take you anywhere!!!
For more information about Tammy:
Tammy Blackwell is the Young Adult Services Coordinator for a public library system in Kentucky. When she's not reading, writing, or cataloging books, she's sleeping. She is the author of the YA Novels Destiny Binds, Time Mends, Fate Succombs, and At First Sight. Her newest book All We See & Seem will be available on May 21, 2013.
You can follow Tammy on twitter: @miss_tammy or check out her website: www.misstammywrites.com