“Robin, have you ever thought about opening a library?” That simple question, asked on a hot, muggy day in August 2001, changed the trajectory of my life and the lives of the families who would someday walk through my library door. My husband, 10-year-old son, and I were attending a living books gathering “on the back side of nowhere” in southwest Tennessee. One of the attendees was Michelle Miller Howard, owner of an incredible private library in Michigan and author of Truthquest History. While talking with Michelle about my book collection, numbering around 2000 at the time, she asked me this question…and my life has never been the same.
On June 8, 2008, Children's Legacy Library opened its doors as one of only a handful of homeschool lending libraries of living books in the nation. The library recently celebrated 10 wonderful years of putting thousands of living books into the eager hand and hearts of dozens of children.
Why was there not a celebration post on this long-neglected blog? Because our family has been in dire financial circumstances for some time and I knew the future of CLL was hanging in the balance.
Every place has a story. The photograph above is part of the story of my place. These are my momma's people. The man in the center is my great-grandfather McGee. To the left is my great-grandfather Scalf. Reclining on the log is my grandfather Scalf. The woman standing in the door is my great-grandmother Scalf and the girl inside the cabin is my Aunt Nadine who is now nearly 90. My people are Appalachian Mountain people, born and raised in the mountains of upper East Tennessee. They were poor, hard-working folks like all those in the hills and hollers. They were uneducated by our culture's current standards but had a grit and determination (as well as common sense) rarely seen today.
When we moved into our current home several years ago, I was very unhappy. It was a nice house on a lovely piece of property with a one-acre pond and 12 acres of lush grass. However the home we left was built by us. I chose the house plans, made changes in the floor plan to suit our family, chose paint, flooring (oh, how I miss my Brazilian cherry floors.) This new house did not feel like home to me. It was someone else's idea of what a home should be. It wasn't until I brought in those unique touches that were meaningful to our lives that I could really say I belonged there. Now I am part of this place. I have taken up residence.
Recently I had an inquiry regarding library membership. This is the season when many families start making plans for the upcoming year so this is not unusual. This particular inquiry took me off guard, however, and distressed me a little. The mom wanted to know if she would be welcome in my library because, she said, "I don't DO Charlotte Mason. I heard you have to DO Charlotte Mason to belong to these libraries."
No, no, a thousand times, NO!
One of the greatest contributions to children's literature in the 20th century has been numerous history series. Biographies, memoirs, historical fiction, original sources, all serve to make history come alive for students of all ages. Could it be that the lack of knowledge and interest in history during our post-modern times stems from the lack of reading gripping tales of heroes and heroines of history? In order to remedy that, add some of these treasures to your family's reading list. This lengthy list demonstrates that past generations understood the importance of knowing from whence we came.
It was Thanksgiving one year ago that we began a life-enriching habit. We vowed to read aloud every single day for as long as we could. This habit was inspired by The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared by Alice Ozma.
There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul.
I am rich. Oh, I don't mean in the monetary sense. My family, like many families around the country, has been hit very hard with current economic unrest. Our lifestyle has changed a great deal in the last couple of years. We've never lived extravagently but we have always been able to afford the necessities of life and many of our wants. Now our lives are...well...simpler. We used to be able to travel a good deal. We can no longer afford to do that...
"I would be most content if my children grew up
to be the kind of people who think
deecorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves."
From the time our children are infants, we are conscious of all they are in contact with. Soft blankets enfold them. Beautiful music soothes them. We show our concern for their safety by covering outlets and padding table corners. We enjoy sweet times of snuggling on the sofa introducing them to new friends through books. Many of these friends they will revisit over and over and never forget.
I was in the library reshelving the mountains of books that had been returned, letting my mind wander over the 14 years since my dream of operating this library had come into existence. A thought suddenly struck me and I stood upright. I looked around me. Books on shelves, books on the floor, books in my hand...always in my hand. Where had this drive, this passion for the written word come from?