My Life as a Reader

I was lucky enough to grow up in a family of readers.  One of my earliest memories of reading was going to our local store front public library, having my mother drop me off in the children’s area, and sitting on the floor reading Madeline.  While we didn’t have much in the way of resources, there was always the weekly trip to the library to keep us in books.  Christmas and birthdays always brought a book to my sister and I, and we had a babysitter who lent us her books as well.

As things improved for our family, books remained an important piece. When we moved, there was a den space in our basement where my father had his desk and big chair and more importantly a full wall length bookshelf that housed everything from his copies of history books, to our World Book set – a gift from my grandmother.  It quickly became my favorite spot in our home.

We were able to go on vacation each summer to a cottage on a large lake, and without a doubt our favorite piece of preparation was the trip to the bookstore where we were each allowed to choose a book or two to buy for our trip.  I remember one of my proudest moments was buying a book with my own money for the first time.  It was Katherine Patterson’s The Great Gilly Hopkins.  It quickly became my favorite book, and it’s one of the few books from my childhood that made it through all of my moves and is still on my shelf today.

Our family always headed to our rec room after dinner.  The television was on, but the four of us would be scattered around the room reading different things.  My mom would be reading a pulpy romance, my dad would have something Dune-ish, my sister was probably reading along the lines of my mom, and I would have been reading Stephen King, Guy Gavriel Kay, or some Judy Blume.

Once I hit university, recreational reading virtually stopped.  It was difficult to imagine reading anything “for fun” while I was reading ridiculous page counts for my history, English and women’s studies classes.  I was reading a mix of fiction and non-fiction, but the idea of reading switched from fun to work.  Even when I had free time, I would not choose to read during it.

Thank goodness for grad school.  I spent my MLIS years at McGill University in Montreal, and the beauty of that program is that it is a 2 year program which allows students to branch out in regard to coursework.  One of the classes I decided to take was a youth literature course (which sadly seems to have been dropped from the program).  What this class did, was light a fire under my love for children’s and young adult fiction.  It also shifted my focus from special libraries to public libraries.

I’ve never looked back.  I’ve been lucky enough to be able to work with children and teens for my entire career.  Part of my job is to actively read in the world of children’s literature, and some of the highlights of my career have involved putting the right book into the hands of the right kids.  I always have a stack of “to reads” on my night table and most times they are 90% children’s titles.

I’m incredibly happy that my family set me on the path of Nerdy Book Club membership.  Nothing warms my heart more than passing it on, and seeing my own daughters curled up on the sofa with a book in hand.

Stacy Dillon is the Lower School Librarian at LREI in NYC where she is lucky enough to work with 3 other amazing librarians.  She is constantly reading for personal and professional reasons.  Stacy blogs at Welcome to my Tweendom and the ALSC blog.  She was a part of the 2012 Newbery Committee, and in Nerdy Bookclub fashion, is slowly working my way through all the Newbery winners.