Years ago when my son was moving from kindergarten to the first grade there was a summer reading program. The program covered all students in St. Louis, Missouri. If a student read five books over the summer, the reader received a certificate for an ice cream cone from the St. Louis Public Library. The fast food chain, McDonald’s, sponsored the program.
That summer my son, Pat, was six years of age. Even at six his bright mind was quick and always looking to find the things that would benefit him. Simply reading five books to acquire an ice cream cone was easy. Pat had been in tow with me for years going to the local branch library. That year on summer vacation my son attained his first library card.
My daughter, Rachel, was two years old and she, too, wanted free ice cream cones. So while Pat was looking for books, I told Rachel she could get books on my card. She had also learned to count. Five books was a number for her to count.
Once, sometimes twice per week, the three of us were at the library returning books and getting another certificate.
Rachel would sit on my lap and we read each book together. She learned her alphabet and was sounding out words over that summer.
While at the library returning books, Rachel asked in her soft, sweet voice, “Daddy, when can I get my own “libraby” card?”
The ladies working at the library heard her question and told her she had to sign her name. That was all that was needed.
Those two bright, brown eyes looked to me for the answer. I asked the younger of the two ladies for a sheet of paper, then we sat at a table. Starting with large block letters, we reduced the size each time until she wrote the letters. Pat stopped looking for new books to read and was cheering Rachel on. Soon I noticed the crowd of adults and other children watching.
Finally Rachel signed her name twice, the same size, to go on the back of the “libraby” card.
It was time.
I filled out the card, the one that told the librarians where the book that was not returned was located.
Rachel took the pen from the librarian and signed her name in the block letters. When she finished, it seemed Rachel had drawn a crowd - everyone applauded her!
My daughter was not just happy but proud of herself.
Now she was able to earn her ice cream cones on her own and Pat was every bit as proud of her.
A few decades later, Pat is Director of Informational Technology for a school district. He is currently working on his PhD and Rachel has a Bachelor’s degree as a Geological Engineer. All from reading at a local branch library.
One other thing, I have always been proud of both!
Copyright © 2013 Patrick Jones, All Rights Reserved.