For many of us growing up, as children we would have a “second home.” It could be the beach, the park, the woods, a clubhouse, the basketball court, the YMCA/YWCA, and the like. For me, my second home was a place of endless wonder–the library.
As I have mentioned in a previous blog, my love of reading comes from my father. Of course, my early reading was largely illustrated, yet I knew I had a passion for the way authors paint pictures with words before I could articulate what that meant.
Receiving my first library card was comparable to being given the combination to Fort Knox. A world of stories awaited me for the simple price of a checkout. I’m sure most libraries attract their share of children through the media of DVDs, CDs, computers and computer games today, but back then, as a child of the 1950s and early 1960s, it was all about the written word–books, newspapers, periodicals. Given my hearty reading appetite, it wasn’t unusual for me to check out a huge stack of books up to my chin. I can imagine that folks wondered what was up with this child walking home with all those books. Ma and Dad shook their heads good-naturedly, knowing that I would read every book before the due date to ensure I could check out another stack.
As I grew older, I enjoyed reading authors who wrote series, and I would become invested with the characters with each new installment of the series. I loved humor, whodunits, biographies, autobiographies; these days romance is also on my list. In high school, when I had free time, I was on a first-name basis with the librarians.
At the time, the main library in downtown Minneapolis also had another perk: a planetarium, a great way to relax and rest my mind for an hour. It started off with school field trips, and the visits continued into my adulthood. And of course, after the planetarium show, I’d walk over to the library for books.
The college library served as the place where students did their research and homework in order to write the endless papers for classes, but I still took time for recreational reading. This was a time when I started asking questions. In my fictional reading, I found myself asking, “Where are the books that feature characters who look like me?” This was a time when colleges were only beginning to have Black Studies as part of the curriculum, including literature written by Black authors, poets, and playwrights.
Toni Morrison said, “If there is a story you wish to read, and it hasn’t been written, you must be the one to write it.” As a Black, gay, independent author, this quote is priceless. It falls right in line with something my father would do; rather than complain about the lack of representation, write the stories yourself.
Today, I am pleased to announce that my Christopher Family Novel series is part of the Hennepin County Library collection, the largest collection in Minnesota. For one who loves the library, it is gratifying to see my work on its shelves, to share my stories with others. The nine-year-old me is grinning from ear to ear.
Believe in dreams and never give up.