What makes a book a classic? Do you remember the “classic” books you were forced to read in school? Did you love any of them? Are there books that you do remember fondly? I think that many times the books that stay with us are the ones that remind us of different time, different people who read to us or with us. As Brenda mentioned last month, some of the books that we love are the ones that help us through difficult times.
While I was growing up, my family had a set of children’s encyclopedias that I loved. There was a volume of short stories that I read over and over, and there was a volume of how to’s for children that I worked from repeatedly. I also remember reading “Lord of the Flies“ not once but twice. I didn’t like it any better the second time.
As I was looking over book reviews recently, I saw that the book “The Velveteen Rabbit” turns 100 this year. I love this book. I believe it has a timeless message that endures. It isn’t dependent on understanding a period in time, a shared experience or a cultural message. I’ve read it to my kids and to my grandkids and I’ve loved it every time. To me, that’s part of what makes a book a classic. I also found reading Roald Dahl’s “The BFG” to kids a hilarious experience. If ever there was a great read-aloud book this one qualifies. Sometimes, books make us laugh, sometimes they make us cry, but either way a great book read to kids can be a wonderful experience, building relationships and bonds that never leave us.
Children’s books in particular can evoke a strong response in adults. And while we hope that our children and grandchildren will remember the books we’ve shared, it’s also important for us to be open to the new books that may interest them as well. I’ve read books with my grandchildren that I had never read before and we’ve had a wonderful time as they share their special books with me. So whether a classic or a brand new book, what’s important, especially as we head into summertime and a possibly more relaxed approach to reading is that it’s filled with fun, curiosity and enthusiasm by adults who share their love of books with the children who are important in their lives.
I also hope that, with four libraries in the county, our community members will take the opportunity to participate in the events and programs offered this summer. While this summer’s theme is “Oceans of Possibilities” and we aren’t anywhere near an ocean, librarians are nothing if not creative. So we have a multitude of programs planned for kids from 0 to 99, for the young, and the young at heart. We have programs about water safety, environmental issues and sealife. We have books and movies relating to all these topics that will be a delight to explore with young folks. Who knows? You might ignite the spark that leads to a career choice down the road. And who knows? You might also discover a classic in the making, a book that will delight you and the children in your life for years to come.
Marcia Vining is director of Ignacio Community Library.