October is Canadian Library Month, and thank goodness for that. There’s no other public institution that’s been as formative and memory-filled for me as my local library.
It was at the library that I first learned how to read. I can still remember the pride of moving from the baby books in the west corner of the library, a place periodically festooned with coloured cut-outs of chubby animals and dancing letters, to the other side of the wall – the Big Kids side.
On the Big Kids side lay thick, wordy books like Ramona Quimby, Age 8 and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Older girls who wore candy bracelets and braided their own hair read these books, and I wanted desperately to be part of that world. Finishing one of those books meant something. Even at the age of six I knew this was true. So, one day I snuck over to the Big Kids side, pretended like I belonged, and casually picked up Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang. It was just the right amount of thick. It felt substantial in my hands, even as it gave off a faint smell of sour cheese.