Books have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories are of my mother reading out loud to my sister, brother, and me. I don’t remember learning how to read myself but for as long as I can remember I wasn’t without a book wherever I went. It was the same with my mother. She not only told us kids how important it was to be a good reader, she showed us by her example. She made it so that books were always available to us. We had more books in the house than we had shelves for them and we were constantly adding to the collection. Whenever we went to yard sales, which was a lot, the first place I would go would be to the table stacked with books. We also made regular trips to the public library and left with more books than we could possibly read.
As a teen I used books as a safe way to experiment with who and what I wanted to be. I read about tragedy and heroism, about love and loss, about fantastical creatures and scientific impossibilities. From the safety of my own room, I traveled to many different places and met many different people. Consciously, I read for fun and unconsciously, to learn more about myself.
As an adult, I’ve been able to embrace teen literature in ways I never did when I was a teen. I can truly disappear into a teen novel, be inspired by those young protagonists, and remember what it was like to feel so lost or alone in my troubles. I feel that’s what teen literature should be for teens now. Books should help them to find themselves, help them decide what kind of person they want to be, now and in the future.
This is why I love my job so much. As a librarian, I have a small amount of power to nurture life long readers in the children and teens I come into contact with in the library.