If I build it, he will read


  • Shutterstock
It used to be that I did not care for libraries. All those books, all that quiet – so dark, so stale, so boring. Stepping foot in one made me nauseous.

However, something changed along the way to adulthood and I’m now a big fan of books, scouring used bookstores and sales for the faded covers, threadbare spines and frayed pages of great literature long forgotten, and purchasing penny paperbacks that thrift shops across America post on Amazon.

One of my favorite places to discover new books and collect old ones is the Friends Of Pikes Peak Library District book sale, held twice a year. (It’s running this weekend, March 20-22, at the East Library, 5550 N. Union Blvd.)

The Friends of PPLD group has existed for over 60 years, advocating for reading and for funding for books and promoting and volunteering for library functions. Revenue from the book sales, as with the Friends’ bookstores in each library, go toward local programs like the Betty Field Youth Writing Contest and the Pikes Peak Poet Laureate Project.

Books are collected for the sale by private donation, not, as I thought, taken from the library shelves after so much time and use. I've walked among the tables, fluttering random samples under my nose with a dumb smile and closed eyes, like a fat guy in a donut shop. You can pick through and fill your arms with some of the greatest books on earth at 50 cents apiece.

And, they have an entire room full of baby books.

My son prefers such masterpieces as Goodnight Moon, Goodnight Gorilla, and Dr Suess’s Sleep Book. They have pictures on every page and some even have textures to scratch curiously at. So this year, the boy and I plan to go and collect as many of the type as we can.

My wife and I usually pull these secret weapons out for the fight to bedtime. I always hand my son off to her in the evenings because he gets mad around 6 p.m. But after a few pages of any of these books he has to fight to keep his eyelids apart. It’s best to move slowly and efficiently at this fading phase. Anything can set the boy off into either fits of screams or shrieks of laughter, and there’s no way of knowing which. I once closed Goodnight Moon just hard enough that the cardboard pages snapped and he laughed so hard his pacifier fell out. He was out a minute later.

As a reader, I want to instill good reading habits in my son from the get-go. If I keep placing books in front of him he won’t be as nauseated by libraries as I was as a child. And good habit is hard to break, so he’ll keep scratching at the pages long into adulthood. Currently, there’s only one thing that can entertain my son as much as a book does, but I can only dance for so long.

I plan to push my son through the PPLD book sale in a flimsy umbrella stroller, stuffing the cargo net full of great infant literature, rolling paperbacks into the cup holders, and filling a grocery bag so heavy with cardboard baby books that it pulls the stroller handles down and lifts the front wheels off the ground. I’ll let the boy pick out a few books as we go, pulling at the ones that stick out from the shelves. And my wife can’t get mad because she lets him do the same thing at the grocery store. I’ll buy so many books that the checkout line behind me curves around the hallway and people will lean against the wall and sigh.

There’ll be a library in his room. If I build it, he will read.

Pico spent his childhood years in the Springs. Now, as a father, he's seeing the city (and life) in a different light. Follow him on twitter at @DavidXPico.

Add a comment

Clicky Quantcast