To the delight of Lyman Hall Elementary School students, author and storyteller Carmen Agra Deedy shared an amusing tale of how a sassy 7-year-old discovered the library and a love of reading.
When the story’s main character is told by her big sister that she’s to read at the library until the big sister is done with dance class, the non-reader had a not too nice reply.
“I don’t like no stinking books,” Deedy recounted to the students.
After a snappy encounter with head librarian Mary McDonald, or Ms. Mary Mack for short, the character happens across the book “Charlotte’s Web” — that moment changes her life.
While listening to the tale, students learned that the main character was a slow reader, dyslexic and sometimes a troublemaker. They also learned something else — the character was Deedy herself.
“My mother was a reader, my father was a reader and my sister was a reader,” Deedy said. “I just wasn’t a reader — until that day.”
Because her love for reading started with chapter books, Deedy said she didn’t get into picture books — which would later become her career — until many years later.
“I discovered picture books when my girls were small and I started taking them to the library,” Deedy said. “I fell in love with them. I got an idea for a story and so I submitted it to a local publisher and they accepted it. I was very, very fortunate.”
Since then, Deedy has published several children’s books, including “The Library Dragon,” which is a favorite at Lyman Hall.
Although Friday was Deedy’s first visit to the school, Lyman staff say they try to bring in at least one author every year.
“We bring in the authors to show the students that they can do it, too. The visits give them a source of inspiration,” said Dolores Hutcheson, Lyman media specialist.
During her visit, Deedy also encouraged students to keep searching for the book that will turn them into readers.
“You couldn’t possibly be in all the places that a book can take you — especially not all of the places in history,” Deedy said. “Reading takes you places — the possibilities are really endless.”