Friday, February 23, 2018

The First Time I Needed Permission to Read a Book

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My mother never was one to tell me I couldn't read anything.  She always said she taught me right and wrong and trusted me to know the difference.  Summers found me at our local library devouring books from the likes of Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, and the Childhood of Famous Americans series.

One of my favorite authors of all time at the ripe old age of sixteen was Dr. Seuss.  I loved the lesser known book I can Lick 30 Tigers Today.  I checked it out of the library quite often when I was younger, and I would giggle while curled up to my mother listening to her reading that some of the tigers' fingernails weren't very clean.  As with some of his books, there were other stories included.  I loved the Glunk that Got Thunk, and growing up in poor Appalachia, I felt sorry for the family who the Glunk was overtaking their phone line.  I would remind myself it was just a for-fun-fiction story, and get back to the rhyme.  (That's how I always remembered fiction and non-fiction.  Written "for fun" starts with the letter F.)  And I loved King Louis Katz that was the last of the stories in that book.


I graduated high school at age fifteen, and over the summer turned sixteen and started college.  I had the entire college library available to me.  Everything from Microfiche to bound periodicals from decades past to existential philosophers.  The basement was children's books, and I found myself spending lots of time there because they had an Ellison Letter Cutter for the elementary education majors and laminating that was only at cost.  It was a crafter's dream.

During the summer of 1990, I didn't have access to the wonderful university library that I had enjoyed during the school year.  I was still seventeen, and libraries were still the most facinating places on earth to me.  I had only traveled through the pages of a book by this time.  I went to the library in the next town and was so thrilled they had Dr. Seuss' new book.  One he had written that was more geared for adults.  My mother and I were talking about how we both wanted to read it.

Being only seventeen, I had to have permission to check certain books out of the library.  It had never come up before, so the library didn't have a permission card on hand for me. My mother was in another part of the library, so I had her check out the book I couldn't check out until I was an adult.

That book is now a staple for graduations, baby showers, and college send offs.  I am sure no one now thinks of that book as needing permission for a child to read.  But in 1991, I had to have permission to check out the classic "Oh the Places You'll Go" by Dr. Seuss.


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