Books in a New World

By Sandra C. 

For my father, a man who came to this country battered by the Holocaust and hopeful that he could raise his children with the few resources he had, the public library was a true Godsend. He brought my sister and me here every Saturday, and it was among the musty shelves and endless rows of books that we learned about America, about the world, and ultimately about ourselves.

I bring my little granddaughter to the library weekly. At two, she cannot read, and she cannot imagine the worlds that will open for her once she can. But she loves to march along the aisles and touch the books. She knows how to turn pages, and she knows that there is information in the words I point to. She listens attentively when I read.

My father died long before Emily was born. Yet when Emily wanders the library shelves and presents me with the volume she will ask me to read (“open,” she says when she hands me a book, as if she knows she is holding a treasure chest of information in her chubby hands), I cannot help think (hope) that somehow my father is watching, smiling at the tradition he started, knowing that as long as we have libraries, we will grow—as readers, as Americans, and as human beings.

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