Better Than the Ice Cream Truck: When the Bookmobile Rolled Into Town 

In June I posted this essay at SMACK DAB IN THE MIDDLE BLOG

I hope you enjoy.


It sounds like the start of a bad joke: The Midwestern town where I grew up was so small…How small was it? You ask. So small there was no library. No joke. The closest town with a library was 8 miles away, so definitely not walking distance. I’d get there with my family occasionally, but it wasn’t on our regular route. But every couple weeks during summer, something magical happened that was better than the ice cream truck arriving: the bookmobile rolled into town.

With my book bag over my shoulder and library card in hand, I would step up onto the bus and into that wonderful mobile world of possibilities. Maybe there was a limit to the number of books each child could take, but in my memory the bookmobile lady encouraged me to check out as many books as I could carry. The only catch was to return the books the next time the bus came through.  

I would load up, return home, and begin working my way through my pile of books. While the other children played outside, I spent time with Stuart Little, Encyclopedia Brown, Katie John, Ramona the Pest, Pippi Longstocking, the cast of Charlotte's Web, the kids from How To Eat Fried Worms, and more in my effort to read each book before my deadline. And when the day came, I'd load up those completed books and return them to the bookmobile in exchange for a fresh set, and start again.

There were plenty of other excellent outdoorsy things to do during those stretches of summer – and I did my share of them. Yet as a kid, I could not have imagined a single summer without books and reading. Thank goodness I didn't have to. 

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