I was asked to write a blog about libraries. My pleasure!!
The meaning of mindfulness
According to the experts, we all need more mindfulness and mediation in our lives, and increasingly, our youngest children are in dire need of these practises, given the amount of distractions that plague them daily.
Luckily the solution is a library.
My mother would take us to the Westmount Library in Montreal, starting when we were 2 or 3-years-old. I thought it was a castle! It didn’t matter that we couldn’t read. She sat us down in that hushed space, at small tables and chairs and give us books to look at. I remember being entranced by the pictures and she would ask us what the story was about. We would take the books home and ‘read’ them to the cat.
I remember the smell of the books, the quiet, the feeling of comradery as I sat with other children, poring over pictures and the words I couldn’t decipher. And then came the day when the words did made sense, and I felt the world open like a sunflower.
How often does a child get to choose something for themselves in a grown-up place? Being able to decide what story to explore for myself was thrilling. When I was a little older I would walk to the library by myself and spend the entire afternoon there. I was Matilda.
You’re never lonely in a library
That love of books never failed to calm me. When I wanted to escape my own life, I’d jump into someone else’s life and swim around for awhile. My breathing actually slows down when I look at a room full of book shelves. It takes me back to my mother and the very tall librarians who would stamp my books in a serious manner, as if I was someone important.
The quiet and space of the library is exactly what children need. To be able to think and dream without household noise and family chatter. You’re never lonely in a library. There are friends within an arm’s reach, and unlike real life, if you don’t like them, you just put them back quietly; no messy excuses or long goodbyes.
The biggest thrill of my life is knowing that all my novels are sitting on library shelves at this very moment and that there are waiting lists for them! How awesome is that? In my first novel, Relative Happiness, my heroine, Lexie Ivy is a librarian.
I have since spent many happy hours, going on book tours and giving readings at public libraries around the Maritimes. I’ve had book launches at Woodlawn, Halifax Memorial, Keshen Goodman and McConnell, to name a few, and it’s always like coming home.
Libraries have changed immensely over the years and are becoming more relevant then ever for all ages and interests, but the key ingredient is always the same. That words are sacred, and knowledge must be preserved. That human experience needs to be kept in a safe place and accessed by even our smallest citizens.
When you are exposed to books at a very young age, that love stays with you. My favourite books of all time, are still the ones I read as a small child; A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson, The Tall Book of Mother Goose, The Saggy Baggy Elephant, Arty the Smarty, Bedtime for Frances by Russell Hoban, Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. This list is endless.
I still have all these books and believe me, if this house ever catches on fire, you can be sure I’ll be running outside with Pippy the cat, my copy of Snip, Snapp, Snurr and the Red Shoes, and The Magic Porridge Pot by the Brothers Grimm.