I almost fell off my bike once because my backpack was so weighed down by books that it nearly knocked me over. I didn’t have one of those handy – and practical – red wagons like Mara Wilson did when she played Matilda on the big screen.
But let’s be honest. At that age I was far too lazy to walk the mile to my library even if I was out of things to read. There had to be a bike to take me or a parent.
I only remembered this unfortunate meeting between myself and concrete the other day because I almost wiped out on the steps of my library with a full bag of books on one arm. On this particular day, I was stocking up for a weekend with Irene and had filled my purse with paperbacks, graphic novels and an incarnation of Enderverse of which I was previously unaware: Ender in Exile.
I had big plans for the big scary weekend that, in my particular neck of the woods, did not end up being all that scary. It was very scary for people near and dear to me and in surrounding communities, but I didn’t lose power, and my foresight to stock up on a lantern, batteries and lots of books was kind of for naught.
Now I have this big pile of books and a limited number of days to read them. And after the storm, I looked them over, remembered the occasion of my acquaintance with the sidewalk and said, “I accept this challenge!”
It’s my chance to have a do-over with a favorite pastime: the summer reading challenge. Yes, I know the summer is nearly over. That’s what makes it all the more fun.
I may even make myself a chart and buy some shiny gold stickers to mark off my finished books.
That was the best part of the game, wasn’t it? For me, it was running through the library (with a parent shushing me and telling me to slow down right on my tail) just to find my name on the community reading challenge board so I could add stickers to my row.
For all my voracious reading both then and now, I don’t think that was a reading prize I ever won. I wanted to every year. And I read a lot every year. But I never managed to read the books approved for my age group or that qualified which was a big bummer in my eyes. But man, did I love putting the gold stars next to my name.
There was something about the validation for everyone to see. It made me feel like that incredibly awesome experience of walking through the secret garden with Mary or going to the fair with Wilbur or getting to carry the flag with Charlie was something I could share with all the other kids in my community.
I want that again. I want the validation of reading a lot of books in a short time. I know the story, and the experience, and the feel of the paper between my fingers should be enough. And it really is most of the time.
But it’s the end of the summer, and I want to pile on the gold stars as fast as I can turn the page.
Image Credit JustDisaster Tumblr