When I was a homeless child. My mother would go to work, and I would go to school. Momma insisted that after school I would go to the library. It was safe, it was dry, it was warm, and the librarians were welcoming. Momma, would come pick me up after work. The bus had a stop outside the library. They all knew my situation, one of them went to high school with my mother.
Momma's Librarian friend always watched over me, fed me the most amazing books, and like clockwork she gave me cookies and hot chocolate. She never judged us, there go I, for the grace of god..... On our nightly walk to that wood bench at the train station that was our home on many a night...Momma would say what did you read today. I would tell her about the cookies, she would say that was kind of Marie, but what did you read today...Well I had Dickens, Poe, Langston, Hugo, Cervantes, the Hardy Boys, Sherlock Holmes, the Invisible Man, Frankenstein...these were my constant companions. These were my life preservers. Without them, and the kindness of those librarians...Honestly, I do not know where I would have ended up. Some might say these were my darkest times, but I am not so sure any more...they just might have been those bright moments that saved Dr. Jesse P. Turner...
Some people think you make readers by building their skills. Skills are necessary components of becoming a reader.
But, I say readers are made by how we invite them into reading. Cookies, hot chocolate, carefully chosen books to inspire, and that welcoming smile, now, these are the things that make readers who love books.
Librarians taught me that books are our constant welcoming companions. Lately, it appears new schools are being built without libraries in poor communities. At the very moment, when public library budgets and hours are being cut. I have urban teachers who are now saying Dr. Turner, there is no librarian in our library. If this is education reform. I want no part of it. These Education Reformers could learn a great deal from listening and talking to our librarians.
I know things, because I read,
Dr. Jesse P. Turner
CCSU Literacy Center Director