There sat the world
“I was a hugely unchaperoned reader, and I would wander into my local public library and there sat the world, waiting for me to look at it, to find out about it, to discover who I might be inside it.” – Patrick Ness
When I was a child, we didn’t have nearly as many children’s books in our home as I would have liked. But we did have quite a few books of general interest, including some really magnificent items, and none of them were off limits to us. I remember spending hours with the books from our modest home library .
Whether I was at home or at the public library, I could spend as much time as I wanted browsing and poring over whatever caught my eye. I don’t remember my parents ever trying to censor or limit my reading. In fact, once when my older brother saw me reading a book called Expectant Motherhood, he felt duty-bound to report it to my mother, feeling certain she would not want me to be exposed to these biological details at an early age. But she just scoffed at his concern, telling him there was no harm in my reading it.
Thus I grew up sensing that information was nothing to fear, and wide-ranging opinions were not dangerous if tested by reason, logic and fact. I connected immediately with the quote by Ness, especially his description of himself as “a hugely unchaperoned reader.” For all the adventures I would later experience through travel, my earliest explorations were made possible by public and school libraries.
It’s never too late to set out on an unchaperoned voyage of discovery, and you need travel no farther than your public library, much of which you now can access directly via your home computer. Unlike the structured reading done in the context of classes and assignments, solo expeditions at the library allow you to follow your own pathways and timetables. There sits the world, waiting for you– send us a few postcards of your most interesting finds!
Happy Birthday to my sister, who read to me and taught me to read.