Page Turning


It’s only fitting that my friend Ken shares a piece about getting lost in books because, well, first off: I don’t even know him as Ken. I know him as “L.B.” which is short for “library buddy.” L.B. and I met at Goucher College back in 2005 in the Julia Rogers Library. We both shared the appreciation for the same quiet nook on the second floor, in the room to the right after the big old staircase. I retreated there in particular because there were never many people in that room, and I dig the serious quiet zones. After a few weeks of regularly going to my tucked away spot, I took notice that I kept seeing the same guy in the same place at the same time, generally on weeknights when I was there. It took running into each other at a party for us to finally introduce ourselves, and though we shared our real names, we proceeded to just call each other “Library Buddy” (very soon shortened to “L.B.”).Throughout the rest of our time in college, we kept to our same study spots on the second floor, and created a friendship built on study breaks where we often played cards and shared what homework assignment(s) brought us to the books that night (can my college experience get any nerdier?). I appreciate what Ken shares here big time…not only because I absolutely love children’s books, but because it serves as a great reminder that something as simple as reading to the kiddos can make an impact, especially these days. On that note, I’m wondering if anyone has any recs on some good children’s books that carry a strong, hopeful, compassionate message of tolerance and understanding/can be applied to what we’re facing today as a nation? Feel free to share in the comment box below. – emidobz


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When was the last time you got so lost in a book you missed your stop on a bus, or maybe a train?

How great is that feeling to dive so deep into a book that you forget where you are?

How important is that to impart on a child, especially in a world where clicks, virtual likes, and smart phone screens dominate our lives in which is often a very unhealthy relationship?

 I used to live in Washington D.C., and a strange thing happened there.

I got addicted to volunteering.

 One of the organizations I got involved with was an afterschool reading program where I met with one or two kids and just read books and talked about those stories. From Clifford the Big Red Dog to the Diary of a Wimpy Kid, we covered it all.

Not only was it a blast to read with the kids, but also a complete throwback to so many childhood memories.

And guess what? Children’s books that were enthralling 25 years ago are just as enthralling today. The content covered in these books consist of simple concepts, and yet remain extremely powerful.

 Inspiring a child’s curiosity and thirst for knowledge is one of the most gratifying experiences I’ve had thus far in my life. After these experiences, I can now better understand why people become teachers. I imagine those long hours and low pay are completely outweighed by those moments when you truly connect with a child. From just my time reading with kids, I know how much it can lift you up and really inspire you more than you ever thought was possible.

 My point here is twofold: one is about volunteering and two is about the power of books.

Some of the greatest joy and fulfillment I’ve had in my life is when I’ve volunteered and done something, without agenda, for someone else. I often feel far too selfish and self-involved in my life, and with that, I’ve lost compassion and understanding for my fellow community members.

Doing and being there for others, often in unceremonious ways, is a small but notable way to feel purpose in life and to see demonstrable and localized change. These are the kinds of efforts which in this world seem more necessary than ever.

 In my opinion, knowledge is the silver bullet against hate, discrimination, and fear. Curiosity is the gunpowder. Inspiring a child’s passion for reading should be a national priority. When I read with my niece or nephew one book after the next, even if I’ve read the same books 50 times before, I go back to those beginning pages with gusto to do it all over again. My love for reading and books has only grown as I’ve grown.

With so many untrusted media sources today, I highly encourage you to take time to unplug, curl up, and get lost in the magic of a good book. If not for yourself, read to someone else. It’s one of the greatest gifts we can give to ourselves and to others. -Ken Knowlton


Ken Knowlton