Alfie's lovely post from Wednesday had me thinking back. I remember my 3rd grade teacher reading our class Where the Red Fern Grows and sobbing our collective eyes out. Later, in college waiting tables for the summer, I got to serve the author. Gave me my best tips ever--though not the writing kind. I didn't have the nerve to tell him that was my goal, even then, to write books.
I don't really remember any one particular book though. I remember going to the Idaho Falls Public Library every Saturday and checking out four books and hating it because even in 2nd and 3rd grade, four books wasn't enough. And when I was sick and Mama went to check out the books, she always got biographies and "improving" books instead of the fairy tales and animal stories I wanted.
I read every single Walter Farley horse book, every Albert Payson Terhune collie book, every color of fairy tale book, all the Mary Poppins books... I read almost everything they had in that library before we moved to Houston in time for me to start 5th grade. I was in book heaven, because in Houston, they didn't limit the number of books a girl could check out.
I remember riding my bicycle to the Sharpstown branch library and trying to maneuver my way home again with ten books in the basket on the front. It was in the late 60s, a time that was rapidly becoming less innocent, but I'm still amazed my mother let me pedal through all that traffic (awful, even back then) at 14 or 15 years old just because I NEEDED more books.
I'm still a binge reader. I find a new author I like, and I grab hold of everything they've published and slam it down. Which is why I have a mountainous TBR pile. Since graduating college and getting married, I've lived in small rural towns with small libraries. I tend to rip through their shelves in a few months and then have to go back to buying my own books. A lot of them get donated to the local library. I'm currently serving on the local library board and have been president of the Friends of the Library. (A much easier task than it might be when you live in a town of 1800--and yes, we have a fine library.)
I believe in libraries. Where else can a child discover how to dream?