Kati from Apopka, Florida

I grew up with a single mom who had very limited resources.  It was hard for her to make ends meet and we often struggled to pay the bills.  However, as a child I wasn’t aware of the struggles the world laid before my mom.  She did a wonderful job disguising the hardships we faced and finding alternatives to her many woes.

One such alternative was the library.  We would often visit the local library to check out books and even the main downtown branch on special outings.  I truly enjoyed the library and looked forward to each visit.  Books were something my mother made me excited about by reading to me often and peeking my curiosity about strange and magnificent things.  She taught me the value of books at an early age and how to use them to help deal with situations and answer questions.  I learned how to travel to distant lands and journey into new worlds without even leaving your bedroom.

All the things that I wanted to know more about became our list for library visits.  I loved finding just the right book and bringing it home for a while.  I vividly remember the library nickel sales where old books cost just a nickel and my mom would give me fifty cents to go wild.  I truly enjoyed the library and it was one of my favorite places to go.  I had no clue that our visits were partly initiated due to the fact that it was one of he only places my mom could afford to take me. 

Likewise, my mother couldn’t afford after school care so the library was where she had me go after school.  They had a wonderful staff and the librarians would have books selected for me before I came.  They would discuss new books with me and we would talk about the books I had read and returned.  It was my safe place and sanctuary when I would have had to be alone at home doing who knows what, had that option not been available.  Instead, my mind was fed and my craving for books grew on a daily basis.     

The library and those librarians helped to make me who I am today.  I was an inner-city child with little knowledge of how huge the world around me was.  I had limited resources available to me and limited opportunities.  However, I was a top performing student in school because I had the experiences I had read about readily available with which to make connections to the new things I was learning, and that made all the difference.  Although I had never left the city I had journeyed to far away places and I had seen and experienced exotic things and ideas through the many books I had read from the library.

My passion for reading has never tired.  I ended up graduating high school with honors in the top ten percent of my class.  I also completed college and continued on for an advanced degree as well.  I chose to become an educator and inspire young minds in the same way I was inspired as a child, and almost all my teaching experience has been in inner-city schools.  I took my love of books and reading and built my whole career around it.  I owe my very life, as I know it, to my early experiences in the library.  My hope is to spark and inspire others to truly discover that books are priceless and knowledge is powerful.