Friday, June 3, 2011

Memories of Summer Reading

Kelly Unsworth is Head of Children's Services at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read her column in the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin on June 3 written in collaboration with librarians at the Norwood elementary schools: Mr. Reuland, Mrs. Roberts, Mrs. Lodge, Mrs. Miller and Mrs. McMullan.

Most of us can remember many things about our idyllic summer vacations while we were growing up. Swimming in a lake, riding bikes throughout the town, walking to the ice cream shop for cones or sundaes. But one thing that we have in common is that we all enjoyed reading over the summer.

For some of us, it was the only time we had to read the books we wanted to read instead of the books we were assigned.

“What I remember most is sitting on my front porch reading mystery stories. I did not live on a very busy street so there wasn’t much to distract me and I was often able to finish two or three books a week,” said Mrs. Miller, librarian at the Prescott and Willett schools. “There were always books in my house and the public library was a short bike ride away. I was fortunate that my mother loved to read just as much as I did, so trips to the library were frequent.”

“In the summer, my mother had to lock my brother and I outside so that we wouldn’t spend all day laying inside reading,” said Mr. Reuland, librarian at the Callahan and Willett schools. “Little did she know that all we did was hide under the branches of the pine tree on the side of the house and read under there. I loved spending all summer reading fantasy novels. I would read anything with a dragon on the cover.”

“The public library in my home town was about a half mile from my home and close to a small market,” said Mrs. Roberts, library teacher at the Balch and Willett schools. “My sisters and I would walk there several times a week and take as many books out as we could carry, after stopping for a treat at the market. I felt proud that I could walk there by myself when I wanted as well. I would often choose chapter books that my older sisters had read and recommended to me. Two of my favorites were ‘The Little Princess’ and ‘The Secret Garden’ by Francis Burnett.”

“We did not have a library in my elementary schools. Therefore, the public library was always of great importance to my family,” said Mrs. McMullen, library teacher at the Cleveland school. “We also moved several times when I was young - always during the summer. Registering for a library card was the first item on our family agenda after the big move! Luckily, the public library was always within walking distance of our homes. I would walk to the library, several times a week, to pick out the books I would devour at home. I can still remember the summer I read through every fairy tale book the library owned!”

“I was a serious bookworm when I was in elementary school (and I still am!)” says Mrs. Lodge, library teacher at the Oldham and Willett schools. “I always looked forward to the reading challenge we were given over summer vacation - to write down all the books you read over the summer. I would take out stacks of books from the public library and just devour them. It was rewarding to see my big, long list of books at the end of the summer!”

My summer days were long and hot, with little to do but eating Kool-Aid popsicles. Luckily, my father was a children’s librarian, so we always had plenty of books. We also had a small branch library that was in an old house. The children’s room was on the second floor, and you had to climb up a set of small narrow steps that were so steep they felt like a ladder. The librarian looked very stern, but there were lots of nooks to read in. We would always stop at the playground, which was next to the library, and then buy either a dill pickle or a pretzel stick for 5 cents at the deli for the walk home.

Take a trip to the library this summer and create your own memories. Sign up for the Summer Reading program at the Morrill Memorial library and start reading. The summer reading booklet, a list of suggested new titles, comes out the last week of school. It will also be posted online at the Elementary School Library website, and on the public library website at: These are books that are not assigned, that there will be no tests on, and that you may actually like. There are fantasy, fairy tales, biographies, picture books, and possibly even a title with a dragon on the cover.

Sign up begins June 13th in the Children’s section of the library. For more information, call the library or talk to one of the elementary school library teachers.