March 2011 Issue
Editor's Note: Speaking Volumes
When I was a kid (warning: geezer alert) the only thing that came even close to the summertime fun of Little League baseball was the Summer Reading Club. (Yes, I know, it’s only March. But what better time to warm up with childhood memories?)
At my school, we got “extra credit” for reading 10 library books over the summer. What practical value the credit had has escaped my memory. The school year was over, after all, and we already had received our final grades. Maybe we were given the vague promise of a head start on the next year. Then again, maybe it was just a scam — if those angelic teachers I remember were capable of such a thing.
But credit or not, I looked forward to my regular visits to the branch library in my Cleveland neighborhood, where we kids were guided by the children’s librarian to choose among the “J” books appropriate to our ages. Henry Huggins and all the (original) Hardy Boys mysteries were particular favorites of mine.
When we were finished reading a book, we gave the children’s librarian — who was, in my memory anyway, always young and always beautiful — a report. She’d also ask us follow-up questions to prove we actually had read the book and understood it. No chance of scamming her.
Success earned us a gold star on our Summer Reading Club scorecard, which turned into a diploma of sorts when 10 stars were affixed all in a row.
I visited the library of my youth on its last day of operation nearly two decades ago. It seemed, of course, much smaller. But there still was that distinctive fragrance of well-worn books that was so much a part of the romance of reading.
The beautiful librarian was gone. And no one said Shhhh! But the experience gave me a nostalgic smile nevertheless.
Don’t get me wrong: I “get” the convenience of Kindles and iPads, and I am surely in favor of anything that encourages children — or, for that matter, adults — to read. But I can’t help but wonder if the romance of reading will ever be quite the same.
All of this musing came to mind this month as I talked with my friends at the Ohioana Library Association, the venerable organization that celebrates and preserves Ohio’s place in American literature. Ohio Magazine
Senior Editor Linda Feagler serves on the board of Ohioana and frequently explores books and authors she has discovered through that affiliation. See our special Ohioana coverage in the Arts & Entertainment section in the May issue.
Meanwhile, in this month’s issue, Contributing Editor Ron Rollins visits with Dayton-area author Katrina Kittle (page 60). His story is — dare I say it? — a “must-read” for lovers of books. Whether on paper or on screen.
And extra credit or not.