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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

If You Read Something, Say Something

I recently attended a lovely librarian preview at a well-renowned children’s publishing house. (Note: the preview itself was lovely; it wasn’t specifically for lovely librarians, although many of the librarians there were indeed lovely. But I digress.) I received the customary tote bag full of galleys, which I happily schlepped around with me for the rest of the day. After the morning preview, I had lunch with my fellow librarian and then helped him shop for new apartment stuff. After walking to Midtown from Greenwich Village, I met up with another friend at his office (which meant hanging out in the Fox News building – an interesting experience in itself) and we got some drinks after he finished work. Sufficed to say, I was completely exhausted by the time I headed home that evening. And, full disclosure, I had consumed two glasses of wine on a near-empty stomach. This is never a good idea, but hey, I’m not exactly known for my good ideas.

So, I sat on the subway, tired from the day, melancholy from the wine, and sharply aware of the soreness in my arms caused by my book-filled tote bag, which had gotten increasingly heavy with each passing hour. A few stops into the trip, a man boarded, pushing a stroller with one hand and leading his young (two years old? three?) son onto the subway car with the other hand. The child sat by himself on a seat while his dad stood next to him with the stroller. Watching this cute little kid - who was sitting quietly with his hands folded, looking around at everything with fascination - melted something in my cold librarian heart.

I rooted through the tote bag and searched for the most age-appropriate book I could find. After picking one out, I walked over to the boy and, without saying a word, handed him the book. He stared at me for a moment, wide-eyed, then smiled and opened the book to the first page. As I walked back to my seat, the dad thanked me. He leaned over, still gripping the stroller, to read the book to his son, using silly voices for the different characters. The kid was laughing and pointing to the pictures. The baby in the stroller was completely ignoring the two of them, yawning drowsily and beautifully. Me? I was a goner from the moment the kid smiled at me. I watched the family until my stop came up, stupidly smiling through tears, feeling like some eccentric book-giving weirdo. The dad thanked me again when I exited the subway. All I could manage to say was: “No problem.” Pure eloquence.

The moral of the story is: do not give away books to adorable children on the subway after a long day and two glasses of wine unless you have no problem crying in public. Because cry you will. (Full disclosure: in this case, I didn’t mind at all.)


  1. And sometimes you will cry reading about people giving away books to adorable children.

    At least I'm not in public.

    Great post!

  2. oh,i do love to read your posts!!!! i think i would have some small books in my tote at all times if i rode the subway-after this.wonderful.i will be so proud when these are all in your BOOK!!! wonderful,rita.

  3. Okay...I admit it I got all teary eyed reading your post and I didn't have any wine - just a tough day juggling 18 4 year-olds! Reminds me why I teach...for those moments when you see the wonder on their little faces and the joy in their eyes. Keep handing out those books, Rita!!

  4. Ah, I love kids, too. Even when they drive me crazy. Let me read them a book--any book--and we are all transformed into a peaceful little learning community once again.

  5. Thank you so much for the kind words, everyone!