Wednesday, July 20, 2011

summer reading program

When I was a kid, the best thing about summer was participating in the summer reading program at the local Carnegie library. As with most of these programs, you were required to read a minimal number of books to earn a prize. My library asked for a short oral report, to be given to a librarian, which was fine. I never minded talking about the books I was reading. I remember the librarian filling an index card with the titles I read. It would be fun to have those cards now.

My childhood library is pictured above. It's one of my favorite places in the world. I learned to love books here. The stacks and every volume they offered were such comfort to me. The entry is new. I think its really attractive and welcoming. The clerestory windows undoubtedly provide a clean, well-lit place, which seems oh so fitting.

The prize each summer was a bus trip. Most of the destinations were frontier-oriented, but I’m fairly sure that’s what you get in eastern SoDak. One year we visited Ft. Sisseton, which was a defense for the eastern Dakota Territory. Another year we traveled to Prairie Village, a living museum near Madison. And, for this prairie girl and #1 Laura Ingalls Wilder fan, the piece de resistance was a visit to the Ingalls Homestead in DeSmet. Regardless of destination, the trips were fantastic opportunities to run around without parental supervision and to see cool corners of the state. I feel super fortunate that my mother enrolled me and that she allowed me to take the end-of-summer trip.

For the past few summers, I have been participating in a reading challenge that is part of my favorite online community. I set my own goal. It’s always the same—20 books. I have only hit this goal once, and to do it, I read three books over Labor Day weekend. That was fun. The summer is just past the halfway point between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and I have read twelve books. Currently, I’m looking for a few good, quick reads to get me closer to my goal. Of course there is great satisfaction in reaching 20, but perhaps I should treat myself to a Minnesota literary road trip—Sauk Center (Sinclair Lewis), Walnut Grove (LIW), Mankato (Maud Hart Lovelace), or here in St. Paul (F. Scott Fitzgerald).

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