My kids and I go to the library at least once a week. I love the fact that free books for everyone still exists in America. It’s such a beautiful idea brought to you by none other than Benjamin Franklin in the 1700s. Here’s a quote from Ben —
“These Libraries have improved the general Conversation of Americans, made the common Tradesman and Farmers as intelligent as most Gentlemen from other Countries, and perhaps have contributed in some Degree to the Stand so generally made throughout the Colonies in Defence of their Privileges.”
And now, several hundred years later, here I am I checking out a bunch of annoying Berenstein Bear books. Thanks, Ben! Can you imagine someone standing on the floor of Congress today and suggesting this idea? “Hey, let’s build the most beautiful buildings in America and fill them with books that everyone can read for free.”
Congress: “HA HA HA HA HA! Are you joking? What about Amazon.com? What about Kindle? In America, we force people to buy their education, you big silly!”
So just the fact that libraries are still around reminds me of how America used to be (and still could be again) and that makes me hopeful. But the biggest reason I love the library is because it contains the absolutely craziest books that you would never, ever find in a book store because no one would ever in their right mind buy them. Books like this —
Emerson is learning to read and this delightful early reader book caught her eye. Maybe it was the catchy title, “Clouds of Terror” or maybe it was just the fact that the children on the cover are running for their lives — but whatever the reason, this book is now in our home and I get to hear Emerson read it to me VERY SLOWLY ever day. Seriously, this book takes up like about an hour of my life each day. It’s the true story of how swarms of grasshoppers invaded the midwest between 1873 and 1877. It focuses on the Lundstrom family, a stoic German family who refuses to leave their farm even though grasshoppers ate pretty much everything they had for years on end. For Emerson, the fact that this is a true story is alarming enough, but the illustrations are even worse. Illustrations like this —
And this one is my favorite. The family’s baby, covered in grasshoppers…
Not surprisingly, Emerson doesn’t like to read this book before bedtime.
So thank you library, for continuing to make learning to read a fun, and sometimes terrifying, childhood experience. I can’t wait to see what we check out next week.