Sunday, March 12, 2006


Even though I am now an art teacher I am still drawn to the kids section in bookstores. In fact I was drawn to the kids section even before I started teaching! I love bookstores in general - I don't care if they are cramped dusty affairs where the treasure is in the inscription or glossy huge spaces that cater for the masses. I love the smell and feel of them - and I buy too many to even finish (I probably have about 30 on my shelf that I've yet to read). Life gets in the way sometimes. I almost died on the spot when I stepped into the reading room at the British Museum in London a few years ago - a circular room with floor to ceiling books. I stopped breathing. People urged me to hurry along but I stood rooted to the spot with my mouth open and knees weak. God, I'm such a dork. But I'm drawn to books - like I'm drawn to notebooks, sharpened pencils, spongey erasers and reems of paper. Yep, dork.

A bookstore is where I found myself last night; pre-movie (Capote, v.good). I was looking for some good art books that were geared towards children, but found myself mesmerized by the reading books instead. There are so many good ones. I don't know how parents can avoid going bankrupt over them. I would insist on one of each book for my child, hard cover - reading room, comfy chair, art corner. sigh. I guess that's what I really wanted as a child but never got. I don't know how I ended up so interested in them. My brother refused to read but I wouldn't let books alone. You know how kids throw tantrums in supermarkets because they want a lolly? I threw tantrums because I wanted books - but books were expensive and my mother (who took care of the money side of things) rarely let me indulge in that. I'd pick those Little Golden books up off the rack and try to slip them into the trolley but I was only allowed to have them sometimes. This was before I could actually read the words, mind you. I remember being pretty proud of myself when I finally worked out what they were on about.

In grade 2, I remember only being allowed to borrow 2 books from the school library. It was agony. I wanted more than two (which I suppose is always the case with me..I want, I want) but it wasn't to be. Sometimes I would sneak them out anyway - it was the 80s and this was a time before sensor beeps at the door. In fact my best friend and I would go into the school library before school, unlock the back door and steal into the place at lunchtime when noone was around and pretend to be the librarian; stamping the books and swanning around. My parents would have been mortified and disowned me if they ever found out. My mum and dad were less than impressed by my devotion to books. I would spend all my time either daydreaming or with my nose in a book. They thought education was the most important thing they could offer me (because they hadn't had it), but that I took things too far. Not reading again! You're going to go blind! I heard it so often, I recited it back to them and added that reading doesn't make people blind so ner! I guess I was precocious - though my school report always said 'quiet and conscientious' - I suppose I was that too.

That year, grade 2, I begged to be allowed to borrow from the local public library. I remember my mother being especially perplexed by my wanting such a thing. Didn't I have a million books at home already? Why didn't I just read them? But she took me anyway, because I complained annoyingly until she had no choice. I could have spent hours in there - but was always dragged away before I could complete my journey from book to book. The library was also where I discovered a lot of music and film. I owe a lot of my obsession with pop culture to the public library.

I haven't visited a public library in many years. I've got (hundreds of dollars worth of) fines in all of them within a 20 km radius. I am good at borrowing, but not returning. So sometimes I treat bookstores like public libraries instead. I go in, I touch all the covers, flick through them and daydream. There was a toddler in the child section last night who was pointing at each word and saying lalala. Sometimes I want to give random children gold stars. I get so excited by children who love to read. It melts my heart when they can get through a page when before they couldn't and they look at you all surprised becuase finally, it clicked and they can read! It's the best thing I can do for a child I think - teaching them how to read - so, that is probably why I'm not going to be an art teacher forever, you know?

One second I'm sprouting about boys being idiots and then next I'm embarrassing myself about loving books. I don't know what you must think!