By Michelle F.
When my daughter, Sami, was about 4 years old (she’s now 18), I registered her for a weekly story time / arts and crafts program at our local library (The Prospect Library in Prospect, CT). Sami has special needs and I had been in search of an appropriate program for her. The story time program seemed perfect. On the first day of the program, the children entered a quiet room in the back of the library and were instructed to take a seat on the floor in front of Mrs. Peterson, the librarian. As Mrs. Peterson began to read the story, Sami got up from her seat, walked over to Mrs. Peterson and stood by her side. I was worried that Sami would be asked to leave the program if she couldn’t stay seated; however, Mrs. Peterson could see that Sami was interested, so she continued to read with Sami by her side. When story time ended, Mrs. Peterson began a conversation with my husband and expressed interest in learning more about Sami. He explained Sami’s special needs and mentioned how much she enjoys books and reading. He told Mrs. Peterson that he reads to Sami every night before bed. Mrs. Peterson responded by telling my husband that her father had read to her when she was a young girl, and she remembers how much she enjoyed that time together.
During the next visit to the library, Mrs. Peterson gave Sami a copy of her favorite childhood book, The Adventures of Old Man Coyote, by Thornton W. Burgess. The book, dated 1927 (originally published in 1916), was Mrs. Peterson personal copy, the copy that her father had read to her. That evening, my husband began reading Old Man Coyote to Sami. She absolutely loved it! They went on to read Thornton W. Burgess’ entire Bedtime Story Series. The Prospect Library became, and still is, one of my daughter’s favorite places to visit. Although Sami is intellectually disabled, her spelling and reading comprehension skills are well above expectations. I attribute this to her love of books and to Mrs. Peterson for fostering that love.