Barbies, Goddesses, and Sudoku Puzzles by Naomi Bates
I would never let Barbie stand in my way.
I kid you not, I was BORN to be a librarian. At the age of six, my two sisters and I had our favorite Barbies and it was time for them to take a vacation in their cigar box cars, but WAIT!!! And I struck my first deal…I’d continue to play Barbies with them if they would play library with me first. Of course, not being foolish enough to leave behind the magic about to happen, they said they didn’t need me, so I upped the ante. When I said I’d set it all up, they gave in. So I gathered up as many books as I could (living in the middle of nowhere Texas back in the day means there were a LOT of books at the house), got a little table with a pen and slips of paper, and made a library. My sisters would check out a couple of books, go into another room to “read” and bring them back for me to check in…and then we played Barbies to our heart’s content, although mine was already full.
Little did I know that this pretend life would come true.
Of course, the reading train never slowed down. As a child growing up in the 70’s, I remember all of my favorite books – the complete Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series, the entire Wizard of Oz series (inherited from my grandmother), and as many Reader’s Digest Condensed Books as I could handle. When high school hit in the 80’s, I immersed myself in Terry Brooks’ world of fantasy and a lot on non-fiction. Then it was college in the late 80’s to 90’s where I discovered Stephen King and Anne Rice (and Cosmo, of course!). And I happily graduated with a degree in English so I could continue to read all day long…
That didn’t work out like I had planned.
At this juncture in my life, I was trying really hard to read the classics (which I never did before), so it was about Hemingway, Shakespeare, Hawthorne….“professional” reading life after college. Although I loved being an English teacher, I wanted my students to love reading for pleasure’s sake, so off to the school library we went where we were promptly told to come back after making a reservation. What?!? The students warned me this would happen and being quite bothered by the whole ordeal, I decided to get my master’s in library science.
And the Goddess changed my life.
I had NEVER picked up a young adult book in thirty years on earth. I was now married with an adopted six-week-old baby and the only book I had managed to read all the way through was “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” The Goddess was my YA lit professor who opened this HUGE window of young adult literature with passion, fascinating me with her booktalking skills, challenging me on the tough issues, and teaching me the psychology behind why and how we read. I was fascinated with the topic, the books, and the Goddess. When the assignment came up to read a list of 50 young adult books for the class, I read them all within a month, mesmerized by authors such as Lori Aurelia Williams, Jim Murphy, Mel Glenn and Chris Crutcher.
I still have to pinch myself that I’ve fallen into library heaven with books as clouds.
And that was that…what I wanted to be in my childhood and what I loved to read created a young adult librarian in a high school I get to go to every single day of my professional life. And reading? Oh yeah…as MC Hammer once famously said, “You Can’t Touch This!” I am ON FIRE reading so the students can experience the same joy I found. I’m determined not to let them waste away four years of high school not reading a great book so I found myself reading my way through the start of a new century and began showing my passion for YA literature through technology. I read every YA genre possible and have a stack of books by my bedside table higher than the lamp they sit next to.
But there’s a special spot for my Sudoku puzzle book.
Although I do enjoy reading anything from horror to romance, adult to young adult, the reader in me just gets tired of all those words on all those pages with all those plots and characters. It feels like a tsunami of book covers are about to hit and I need a break. So what better replacement for words than a good Sudoku puzzle filled with boxes and numbers. It’s like my reading life raft. I have it handy when I’m feeling inundated and, strangely enough, it does the trick for me to find my book addiction once again.
Bottom line? Reading has, is, and will always be a part of who I am and what I love. Bring on the readers and large print because I’m getting ready for the next reading phase to happen! Adelante!!
Naomi Bates is a teacher librarian at Northwest High School in Justin Texas. She has been the recipient of several awards including the Gale Cengage/SLJ Emerging Leader, Texas Library Association Standing Tall Leadership award, Tx Computer Educators Assn LMS of the year, Tx Assn of School Librarians MVP blog award and the YARI award (Young Adult Reading Incentive) from TxLA. She travels throughout the state and country advocating for school libraries, booktalking YA books, creating book trailers, and teaching technology tools. You can follow her on Twitter @yabooksandmore as well as her blog YA Books and More www.naomibates.blogspot.com.