I am and have always been a reader. I remember the first book I learned to read, and how in that moment my life was changed forever. As a child, books were my ultimate escape, and I took up residence in those worlds for as long as I could before the reality of life would call me back. My parents and teachers encouraged my reading habit in every way that they could. From this young age until the present day, you can catch me with a book in my hand, purse, backpack or right in front of my nose. I was in the second grade when RIF visited my class. I remember being overjoyed that we would have story time and get to pick out a book to take home as our own, and asked my parents if they would like to come read to my class.
My father was one of the volunteers who came to read to us during story time. To this day, it is one of my favorite memories of my father. I remember after he finished the story and we were picking our books a classmate gushed to me “Carly you’re so lucky your dad came to read to us! He’s cool!” A shy kid, I just smiled, but inside I was prouder than I had ever been of my dad. I chose a beautifully illustrated version of Disney’s “The Jungle Book”. The cover was a spectrum of green jungle foliage (my favorite color) with the characters Mowgli, Baloo, and Sherkan on the cover. There was a stamp on the inside that read “This book belongs to” and I proudly scribbled my name under it when I got back to my class. It was my book now; to sit on my shelf and admire, and forever remind me of such a special day. That book had a place on my bookshelf for many years until recently when I finally decided to pass it onto another child to enjoy as their own.
My penchant for hoarding possessions and information, holding onto all my precious books and reading everything I could get my hands on carried over into my adult life. My personal library has grown to multiple shelves. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in English, and am a Reference Librarian at a local college. Reading is synonymous with my personality. Books are my passion, my profession, my identity. I firmly believe that without individuals and programs like RIF, my passion for books and as result, life path could have taken a different turn. That day where I chose my book and wrote my name inside was one step in many that have led me to be the reader, free thinker, and librarian I am today. I am so happy to be a “RIF Kid” and grateful that the program is still making a difference in children’s lives today. I’ll end with a quote from Children’s Author and literacy advocate Frank Serafini, “There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book.” . Thank you RIF for finding me and other children the right books, it changed my life.
Librarian, Instruction and Reference
Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising