Nita from San Juan Capistrano, California

As a teenager I went  to socialize, but what started out as an acceptable excuse to leave the  house on a weeknight, turned into a life-long passion for unearthing jewels  of the library.  Waiting for  friends, I picked up a book, and quite by accident, got sucked into its lair.  Obsession for books grew over time, while each week I would arrive earlier and  earlier to mine new treasures, before my friends came.


During my early  twenties, my father's infirmity caused him to go blind. Along with sight, he  lost confidence in the ability to do things; he’d once taken for granted. Yet,  the library was insightful, and progressive. They had started a collection  expressly for people with vision impairments. He was one of
the first to enjoy,  books on tape. They provided an escape from darkness; keeping his mind alive  with vivid details and adventures he could no longer experience physically.  I loved to listen to books with  him, watching his expressions while transported by gifted authors and eloquent  readers. Then,
audio-books were in their infancy and limited in supply, so when  he did not have a talking-book, I would read classics I had learned to love  during those exploratory teenage years.

Dad died while my husband and I were  living in a far away
ski-resort. The discovery of those talking-gems are part of  his inheritance to me along with joy that comes from listening to a book shared  with family and friends, or even while alone. He would be blown away by the  extensive title selections, advances in technology, and professional readers  that now make the experience even more enjoyable. 

 
Our children were born  in my late twenties.  Nothing was  better than holding them.  So,  reading to them while holding them, was a natural. It was good fortune to live  around the corner from our library. Unfortunately, it was not open everyday, due  to small town budget constraints, and often, inclement weather. During special  outings we'd spend hours there sifting through books and reading. Our oldest  daughter loved to sit in my lap while I pointed out pictures in her favorite  Richard Scary books. I'd name them, and then she would repeat.  But, our youngest daughter didn't seem to  understand us, and at six months old was diagnosed...deaf.  


How could this be?  Now, what are we going to do?  We were isolated and alone, while  searching for answers on how to raise her. I didn't know were to go for help, so  I immediately went to my refuge, the library. We looked up every article, and  read every book that could be found on deafness.  The library was small, but  accommodating; borrowing books from other county libraries to aid our  research.  I found one reference  book that really struck a cord, and we decided to raise her with a visual  representation of English. 

When I  think about the gifts I would most want to give my children; love, literacy, and  confidence, comes to mind. We learned as we taught her; sign by sign, word by  word, hoping to infuse literacy into the signed language of choice. We constantly checked out and borrowed books, to open up our baby’s mind and  broaden her world. It was hard to hold both her and a book while signing, but  somehow we managed.

Eventually, we moved  back to the city, for better access to education, when she was a toddler.  Early intervention is the key for  language acquisition, so books were her consent companions. Those pictures in  the Richard Scary
books were now pointed at and signed.  “Bird, that’s a bird.”  “Bird,” she'd sign back. “Bird fly.” The  library has done for my daughters, what it has done for my father, and me;  providing access, enrichment, and enjoyment. There have even been libraries that have  even offered story time, signed. 

 
Both daughters are now  in college experiencing life’s challenges, but not from lack of being literate  or well informed.  Now, when they  want to explore, research, or just hang out, they know where they are  welcome.  And, just as in my life,  they too know that the library is a friend that will grow with them, every step  of the way.