Once for the Money, Twice for the Show
When I was younger, I really loved money. It was one of the few incentives that would make me agreeable to whatever conditions I didn’t like. If my father wanted me to be more cooperative and less like the little gremlin that I was, he would offer me money. For some reason my mother didn’t like that system very much. So, unfortunately my parents wouldn’t just pay me to read. However, I do remember the exact incentive behind my fuel for reading. After the first sentence that I read out loud. My parents started to put together the mystery behind my selective reading. It all became very obvious when the pediatrician brought my mother over to where I was presented with the letters on the eye exam. The kind doctor asked me to say which ones I could see, so I said nothing. The adults in my life then all agreed that I should go to an optometrist, where I was given my first pair of glasses. Reading was much easier with glasses. So I actually started reading on my own.
My new ability to see objects in front of me lead my mother to start taking my sister and I to the library every weekend. My sister loved this opportunity because she loved reading. She was already grades above the other kids in terms of her reading level. I was forced to go with her because I couldn’t be trusted on my own, and very few babysitters wanted to deal with me. The Amherst Library was somewhat small, old, and not my first choice to visit on a weekend. The library seemed boring, but it had a incentive system. If kids read a certain amount of books each week, they could take a book from the back room for free. I loved money, so I saw this opportunity as getting something for free- which was basically just free money. So, of course, I was ecstatic. One week, I finally worked hard enough to reach the necessary quota of books, and so I was introduced to the book closet in the backroom.
The librarian lead us to the closet after checking our lists. She would always smile at my sister’s enthusiasm. My sister at that age was chatty, and much taller than me. She was very proud of her book lists, often talking to strangers and just telling them about how many books she had finished that week. She was especially proud of the fact that she had read enough that week to get two books for free instead of just one that week. The Amherst librarian was gray-haired but still energetic. She was always trying her best to convince kids to read more often.
The closet itself was shelved wall to wall with books of all types and genres. The books went in age order, but my sister would look through them all. I didn’t look through many. I looked in the pile for kids my age and looked for something expensive. Eventually I figured out that children’s books weren’t actually going to go for much in the economy. Instead I found a book with a dog on the cover, and I figured that it was good enough. Animal books were hard to pass up, and that dog was awfully adorable. It’s strange how fast those visits changed my priorities. I used to only care about money, but reading made me become a little obsessed with animals for a long time. Which started giving me an intrinsic reason to read. Especially informational books that let me rant about the useless information and annoy my sister. That overall system made me start reading more, and I really should have appreciated it when I was there. I wish that all I had to do for a free textbook now was read a bunch of other books.