Reading through the ages, for all ages

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 4, 2004

Ripples – Anna Monica

As I was cleaning out a nice, quiet place in my yard where the birds were singing, the breeze was blowing, the swing was swinging and my little home-made fountain was flowing (and looking good because Cameron, my friend and carpenter, had dressed it up), I had the deepest desire to be able to sit there and read. However, the “busy-ness” in my life would not let me – a most unfortunate circumstance.

It has always been my thinking that we can find time to do the things we really want to do, but in this fast-paced era of ours, we don’t let ourselves. Therefore, we miss one of life’s greatest gifts – books, and the ability to read them.

When in elementary school in Garyville, every day found me going to the library where at the sight of books, I could just salivate. I read a book a day; but, young children don’t really have a lot of other demands on their lives. In third grade, I read the book “Little Women,” three times (and it is still my favorite after all these years). When in a seminar a few years ago, we were asked which person, real or fiction, we could relate ourselves to. Mine was Jo March of “Little Women;” single, devoted to family, outspoken, a writer and a dreamer – and always getting into trouble for one reason or another. To me, that proves how much reading can influence our lives.

Then, one day in the Garyville library, my neighbor, Gert Duhe, walked in and I discovered that she reads constantly. Was I impressed! People just don’t do enough of that anymore, I believe; too much television. Then, I noticed the cutest t-shirts and book bags hanging on the wall and a bunch of clever slogans. Karen Tassin of Reserve, Branch Manager of the Garyville Library, very kindly started to explain and enlighten me about the official Summer Reading Program taking place at all libraries throughout Louisiana.

The official program has a theme and is from June 7 through July 31; all children age three to twelve are eligible to participate. Throughout St. John Parish, the public school system sends out a list and each grade is assigned a book to read. The young people are encouraged to do independent reading also and incentives include certificates and prizes, according to the number of books read. Often, the prizes match the theme of the program. In addition, live performers who read to them are scheduled throughout.

Book logs are given to record books read. From age’s three to seven, ten books are required and this includes a “Read to Me” program for the younger ones and nine to 12-year olds must read 500 pages. The public is informed about the program through newspapers and flyers in many areas.

Mrs. Tassin also speaks of her own love of reading which has encouraged her two daughters to read constantly. Karanell will be finishing her studies at Xavier, majoring in English with a minor in speech pathology which will take an additional two years. She writes poetry also, keeping a diary to hopefully have published someday. Trinell is at LSU majoring in kinesiology with an eye on a career in physical therapy. Their mom is convinced that a love of reading has inspired them to achieve.

Gaylon Fabre walked into the library to browse among the books and informed us that his mom, Ursula Fabre and grandmother, Lillie Mae Fabre, were at that time talking on the phone to his sister, Ashley, a member of the Army Reserves serving in Kuwait. Today’s libraries are not as “hush-hush” as they once were so we interact a little.

In speaking about people who need help, “library workers today,” says Mrs. Tassin, “are almost like teachers. We go above what we are supposed to do, as long as it is not taking us away from our jobs. Here, we have time because we are a small library.” She says that when it is “project” time, they are even busier and have to also assist the parents in understanding the project. She is pleased, though, that all of this encourages reading.

In Garyville, Dolores Anderson is the library tech assistant and former teacher, Susan Simon, subs on weekends. All are devoted to reading and readers.

In the Garyville library, there is an architect’s drawing of the new library to come in Garyville. Just looking at that drawing makes me think back to how things have changed and that small library in Garyville Elementary school; and want to again read a book a day.

Anna Monica writes this column weekly and can reached at