Last night in that haze right before I fell asleep, a memory from my childhood popped into my head. I cannot recall why it popped in there (I am mildly obsessed with following trains of thought back to the beginning when someone says, “How did we start talking about THAT??”) but there it was none-the-less. At first it made me happy. It was a good memory. But then it made me kinda sad in that way that so many of a Child of the 80s’ memories make her sad as we approach 2010: “Do kids still do that nowadays? It’s probably all online or something…” What on earth am I talking about?
Let’s see if you can figure it out… This is the picture in my head: rows of bookshelves topped with yellowish cardboard pages standing upright in little stands. On the cardboard pages are rows of children’s names, to the right of which are little circular stickers. Some kids have 2. Some have 20.
If you haven’t already figured it out (which is entirely likely since I am not even sure if this was a national thing and if it was it probably wasn’t done the exact same way in every town) I’ll tell you. I’m talking about the summer reading club at the local library. You know, the reading clubs where you’d try and meet the summer-long goal of reading 100 books and along the way you’d earn prizes at each milestone. With two English teachers for parents, reading has always been a big thing in our family. And that summer reading club at the Daniel Boone branch of the St. Louis Public Library System was an institution in our house. As much a part of our summer vacations as playing ghosts in the graveyards and catching fireflies.
I can remember the details of the club like I finished my 100th book yesterday. Each year my sister and I would sign up at the start of summer vacation. As we read our books we would fill out the pertinent info on little cards with space for 5 books. The filled cards were then turned it in at the library in exchange for a little circular sicker which we’d then get to stick next to our names on the list. Like I said, there were prizes too, erasers and pencils, posters and maybe a backpack for the 100th book, but I think the best part was watching the row of stickers grow. The best times were when we’d get back from a trip away with multiple cards to turn in and the 2 or 3 new stickers would push us past our neighbors.
That’s the part that makes me sad. I wonder if the club is still run like that – in such a non-technologically advanced way. Un-alphabetized lists of names, hand written in black felt marker with little stickers marking the steps towards the finish. I imagine it somehow now being all online. Kids can sign up and record their books on the internet. Download their prizes of a gift certificate to borders or amazon.com. If that’s the case then I will at least praise the library for changing with the times and continuing to encourage reading among children. I hope, however, that things are still run with at least some semblance of the “olden days.” I chose to be optimistic that this is the case. After all, for the time being at least, the library, by default, is a place which must be visited to be enjoyed. So if the kids have to visit to pick up their new books, perhaps they can also still affix their stickers to the list of names.
(I realize this post has little to do with the purpose of this blog, but it’s MY blog, so I can write what I want, right? But for any purists out there I will ask the question, Does anything like this exist in Spain?)
I also realize the underlying nerdiness of this post. But I happen to love books and book clubs and all that. And I love libraries. And I loved the bookmobile days in elementary school. And I was mad at the Simpson’s episode where Bart blew one up!!