Posted by: jeannineatkins | June 14, 2008

Our Library

I told my friend Pat, who teaches reading in an elementary school, that I’d come for her end of school party. I scooped ice cream while she passed around caramel or chocolate toppings, whipped cream and sprinkles. I read one of my books, then some students read others to me and we all clapped. One boy played the trumpet, the theme to the Titanic. We talked about heroes and I told everyone how they were mine for being able to speak two languages. They beamed.

As everyone got ready to leave, C., a graduating fourth grader told me, “I like how you put real things into your stories.” We talked a little about writing. Then C. came up with Pat and me to watch and wave as rows of children headed toward the busses. The music teacher came by, spun around so his back was to C., held his palm flat, and she grinned and slapped it. The teacher moved on. C. still stood between Pat and me as the last class filed out. I knew this girl did not want to go home. Later Pat told me why this might be so. This girl, who’s lived through what no one should live through, softly told me, “Thank you for giving books to our library.”

You know a school is doing something right when a student thinks of what may be the heart of a school as not only hers, but ours. When a school may not only be a home away from home, but maybe the safest home of all.



  1. That poor girl. I’m watching my brain race down all these paths that would/could open up for her in a novel, with the library playing a starring role in turning her life around, and I’m wishing that real life was more like fiction.
    Thank goodness for books in her life, though, and for a librarian like your friend who understands what is going on and gives the girl all the time there she can.

  2. I’m a naturally hopeful person (some would find other names for that) so I do hope the good people and stories who show up in her life can point to ways back to beauty. And I certainly know people for whom the consolation and encouragement of books changed everything. But, yeah, real life can just sometimes be way too hard.

  3. Wow! What a heart-felt story. Thanks

  4. Thank you for reading!

  5. I was very moved. My heart goes out to that little girl.

  6. Oh I want to hug that little girl, and you, for making a happy place, however briefly, in her life.

  7. You just wish our collective care could help in the struggle she is managing so bravely. Thank you.

  8. Thanks for the hug-wishes, Susan. I know you’d want to sweep her away and maybe some right words will.

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