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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Thank You, RIF


It's birthday season at our house--all of our birthdays come in a two month span--which always leads to a lot of nostalgia around here. My kids love to look at pics of themselves and fondly recall past birthday parties, old friends and treasured gifts.

It started me thinking about the treasures of my own youth. There were a few toys that I loved--my ice skates and Fashion Plates come to mind. :-) But my most treasured possessions were my books. And my love of books started with the Bookmobile.

I still remember the excitement when the Bookmobile came to our elementary school. It was a van filled to bursting with all sorts of new, shiny books. We were allowed to choose one. To keep. For free.

This was a Very Big Deal. I was raised by a single mom and while we had what we needed, buying books was a luxury not to be thought of. I know now that the Bookmobile was funded by Reading Is Fundamental, whose goal is to get books into the hands of needy kids. I don't remember now if everyone at school got a book or if only certain kids did, but I do remember the magic of it. I remember being dazzled by the colors and the newness and the sheer number to choose from.
I remember Harry the Dirty Dog and The Giant Jam Sandwich and Ballet Shoes and Little Women. They were my treasures and I read them again and again and some of them I still own. I've shared them with my kids and with plenty of others. You guys are readers--you know how those pages were tickets to other worlds and times.

Those few, magic moments of choice filled me with happiness that lasted long after the Bookmobile pulled away. They fueled my love for stories and the written word and started me on a meandering path that has led me right back. I've done what I could to pay that joy forward, volunteering for literacy programs in schools, helping with book fairs, giving books as presents whenever I can. And now I've found that there is a RIF program in the county next to mine. I'll bet they can use a volunteer. But first I want to thank RIF. Reading is indeed Fundamental and I might never have known the magic if not for you.

How about you? Did the Bookmobile come to your school? Do you remember the first books you fell in love with? Do you still have them?

31 comments:

  1. Deb ~ You brought tears to my eyes this morning. What a lovely post. I don't think I've ever laid eyes on a Bookmobile, which tells me there should probably be more of them or I am not very observant. Or both. (You know how observant I am.)

    I remember the first romance I fell in love with. It was a traditional Regency - The Grand Deception by the late Elizabeth Mansfield, and I was 13. My mother was mortified that I was reading romance, but I bought it with my babysitting money and then hid each and every other subsequent book to keep from getting the "look" or a lecture.

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  2. Deb, I'm on staff at Reading Is Fundamental and wanted to thank you for your post. It's so great to hear how RIF helped shape your love of storytelling. We appreciate you sharing -- and welcome your volunteering!

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  3. Aww...I didn't mean to make you cry, Ava! Oh, yes, I've read a lot of Elizabeth Mansfield in my time too!

    The Thorn Birds was my first big epic romantic saga, but I think the first 'real' romance I read was The Flame and the Flower. Ah, Heather and Brandon. :-)

    I read the The Thorn Birds so often as a teenager! When I turned 30 my mom gave me a copy as a birthday present because she saw mine had disappeared. See what the Bookmobile started! :-)

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  4. Thank you so much for commenting, Jay! And for all of your hard work! It truly does shape lives. I was thrilled to find a program close enough that I might be able to contribute.

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  5. Deb,
    I don't remember a book van, but I can clearly recall the bookfair, and how excited I would get when it was time to buy books. I, too, came from a single parent home, and books were a luxury, but my mother somehow always managed to afford them for us. Some of my favorite books I recall are Nancy Drew, Little Women, and Are You There God, It's Me Margaret. I loved to read and be transported to other worlds. Thanks for this great post, and you've just inspired me to go volunteer at my son's bookfair!

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    1. We don't have the bookmobile in our school district either, but we do have book fairs! You'll have fun volunteering, I hope! The kids are always so excited to come in and check out the selections! And we have great PTA programs that help make sure that every kid gets to take a book home.

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  6. Deb,

    I looooved the Bookmobile!!! I loved the smell, too. I remember the excitement of climbing up those stairs and my eyes bugging out at all those books! I get that same feeling when I walk into the library years later.

    One of my favorite books from my early childhood was "The Pokey Little Puppy." I still have my worn copy with my crayon signature. I guess even at age 3 I was practicing to sign books. ;D

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    1. It's a good thing you got to practice, I predict you have a lot of book signing ahead of you, Samantha!

      I remember the Pokey Little Puppy too. Our school library had a shelf full of the Little Golden Books. I remember the Saggy, Baggy Elephant too!

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  7. What a great memory! We did not have a Bookmobile, but like Julie, we did have a Book Fair. And I was part of a single parent family, too, but we always found a way to scrape some money together and buy some books when that time came around. Little Women was the first book I remember buying at the Book Fair and taking home and devouring. That one has had a profound effect on me...still does to this day!

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  8. Me too, Catherine! One of the best books ever! I still reread Little Women occasionally, and I still cry in all the same places!

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  9. I never had a book mobile come to our school. I just remember it going more toward more to inner schools in LA. However, I remember the scholaric bookfairs and order forms.
    The books I remember most are reading are RL Stines' Fear Street series. Then in high school moving on to romance novels. My favorite one was "A Garden Folly" by Candice Hern. I read a lot of them and then stop.

    However, that is truly sad to hear the book mobile will not be around, because they really benifited the inner city kids.

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    1. I think there are still bookmobiles out there, Melody, but as you say, they may be targeted to specific needy areas. I grew up in a depressed steel town, we might have definitely qualified! :-)

      I read A Garden Folly back in the day too! Great book!

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  10. My elementary school had a book fair, but in my single parent household, my mother taught me to be a big fan of the library. We went every other Saturday, and my mother would get a bag full of romance novels ... I bet she had a dozen in there. The card I use today is the same one I've had since I was in the seventh grade. I love to see the big Book Mobile bus riding down the road, because I know wherever it stops will be swirled with excitement and otherworldly possibilities!

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    1. Hi Becky! I know your mom is still reading romance! We love having you guys at Lady Jane's RDU!

      I exhausted the school library in both my elementary and middle schools. I still love to spend time in our local libraries too. Magic places!

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  11. My first favorite book was The Little Engine That Could. The next books I remember liking were Nancy Drew. Every birthday and Christmas my Aunt Martha would give me a new book (or two or three). She had been an English teacher and we spent a lunch with her but I loved getting my books. So glad they had 80 some books in the series by the time I hit being a teenager. I think they are well over 100 now but growing up, I devoured them and couldn't wait for my next hit...um gift.

    I don't remember seeing a book mobile, but I remember spending lots of time in the local library. I love the library, so many books.....

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  12. Hi Beth! I only ever read a couple of Nancy Drew's. When I was older I always asked for Trixie Belden books for my birthday and Christmas, though. Loved Trixie and the gang!

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  13. I had completely forgotten about RIF until you mentioned it. That takes me back to childhood. However, I was not a reader. I read only what I was forced to for school. I really didn't fall in love with books until I was sixteen. I started reading my sisters historical romance because I was so bored and I haven't stopped reading since. I read everything genre now and anything that sounds interesting. Years wasted when I could have been drawn into exciting worlds.

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    1. Those are lost years, Jane! But I'm so glad that you have the chance to make up for it now!

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  14. I have a couple of the books I fell in love with: Lorna Doone and Arabian Nights. We moved so often that I rarely got to keep things like books. Mom kept certain ones and a few years ago, she gave us all the ones we loved.

    I read a lot of Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and Cherry Ames, along with a slew of Christian books and romances by Emilie Loring and Grace Livingston Hill. And I loved Little Women, too!

    But no Bookmobile for us. We were overseas. *G*

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    1. Oh, I love Little Women. I've read that countless times over the years- and The Secret Garden. And Swan Lake!

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    2. That was sweet of your mom, Sabrina! Certain books went to college with me, stayed with me through moves and are still here. Others I had to weed out, but the really important ones I've replaced.

      Actually, The Secret Garden and The Little Princess are two of those, Olivia!

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  15. This is a timely post, Deb. I was just telling my husband that my on's first book fair was coming up (he's in Kindergarten) and fondly remembering all the times I went to mine. I loved the book fairs. It was the most exciting thing in the world to me: time off of class to go pick out BOOKS!
    But my heart just ached for my husband when he said, "Yeah, I didn't really like Book Fair. i never got to buy anything, because we had no money." His parents had split up when he was young, and they really struggled to make ends meet for two households and four kids. It makes me sad to think of how many kids out there go through the same thing.
    I have filled my kids rooms with books- they are the food of imagination.

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    1. I feel the same way, Olivia. I feel like making sure my kids were readers was one of the best things I've done as a parent.

      That is sad about your husband. :-( When you get your bookfair info, watch and see if they have a program to donate so that underprivileged kids can pick out books too. Let me know and I'll be happy to donate! Every little bit helps in those situations.

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  16. Olivia's husbands story is heart wrenching.I hope he has lots of books now. When I was in school they use to send papers home for us to order books, and my Mom always say that she couldn't resist the request for a book. I am the same way. I will say no to buying a toy, but it is hard for me to say no to a book.

    I loved these horse books at the school library but for the life of me I can't remember the titles. I went on to read Nancy Drew, Bobbsey Twins, The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, Trixie Belden.

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    1. Hi Gayle! I know just what you mean. I'm a pushover when my kids want books, too!

      Horse books? Could they be Marquerite Henry? Misty of Chincoteaque, King of the Wind, etc?
      I was in LOVE with those and always longed to go to Chincoteaque for Pony Penning Day..

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  17. When the "bookmobile" came to our school it was to set up for book fair--one of my most favorite times of the year! I remember the first book I ever got. It was about Native Americans, and I loved it because there was so much about Pocahontas written in it!!!

    Thanks for such a touching blog post, Deb! So many kids need books; sometimes it's their only escape to a better world.

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    1. It's funny, Marquita, because I was thinking about all the books I used to get from the library and one of my middle school favorites was Sacagawea. The librarian used to ask me if I didn't want another book? I also checked out all the Pern books in middle school and we used to discuss them...fond memories!

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  18. Aww what a great post. We didn't have a book mobile but I would love to see one happening around here now. That would be wonderful. We did have book fairs -- one of my favorite times of the year as well, Marquita. I had hoped to pass on my love of books to my kids but it seems not so much. I have however passed on my love of history to both of my children as well as a love of music so I count myself lucky that I've done a good job as a parent in that respect. My kids read but not like I do. Which is all right with me, they both express their creativity in other aspects of their lives.

    I do still remember some of my first books. Dr. Suess comes to mind and the Baby Sitter's club was one of my favorites. Also my mother read me Treasure Island when I was fairly young and I remember loving the idea of being a pirate and finding treasure. It fueled a lifelong love affair with the ocean and everything to do with it.

    Great post, Deb! I Loved walking down memory lane!

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  19. Thanks Suzie! It really has been fun wandering down the old reading memory lane today!

    It's kind of a relief when your kids are creative, isn't it? It makes them *think* :-)

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  20. We never had the Bookmobile (that I know of), but I certainly remember the Book Fairs. Man was it hard to choose just one or two! I know what you mean about the feel, smell, and look of all those shiny new books. I will forever be grateful for all those who helped foster within me a love for reading - what an amazing gift!

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  21. Hi Erin! It is a gift, isn't it? And I just got a box full of shiny, new editions of my next book. Quite a far place from the bookmobile where it all started, but an amazing journey!

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