National Library Week: Our Favorite Books

For National Library Week, GCA staff members share some of their favorite books:

Kay Elder:

I loved the story of the Velveteen Rabbit by Marjory Williams growing up. I could imagine the toys in the nursery. I could understand toys that lost their charm with time. But it was only as an adult that I understood the message of the Skin Horse.

Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.

The lessons shared through the story apply to all – old and young, male and female, regardless of where you are from or where you will go.

  • You are exactly as you are meant to be.
  • Listen to people who matter.
  • Be authentic. Be yourself, whoever that is.
  • Love is hard work and it can hurt. But the effort is worth the reward.
  • Life can be hard and takes strength.
  • Never forget the people who helped you along the way.

Linda Calhoun:

I have always been a reader. Growing up, we moved frequently. When we got settled, my mom took my brother and me to find the nearest library. We would go weekly. At Christmas, I always put books on my Christmas gift list.

I’m not sure I can pick a favorite book. I loved the adventures in the Laura Ingalls Wilder books as a young girl. One of my favorite college courses was my Children’s Lit class because I got to read the Newberry and Caldecott award winning books as a part of the class. I used the books nominated for awards as a reading challenge in my classes when I was teaching. Discussing books with students was a highlight for me. I enjoyed using Patricia Polacco books in my classroom. She was a wonderful story-teller and used language in unique ways. When I taught English and Social Studies, using literature from the time in history we were studying made the books more meaningful.

A couple of favorites: The Book Thief is a story that lives in my heart. A friend of mine wrote a trilogy, Highland Hopes, Highland Mercy, and Highland Grace. These stories brought back childhood memories for me. I felt I knew the characters in these books personally. Even though I now read mostly on a tablet, there is nothing quite like the smell and the feel of holding a good book in your hands.

Heather Hartley:

Lacing my fingers into the tangled mane, I instinctively hunched my shoulders and with tucked chin, leaned slightly into the Black’s sinewy neck as he took a tentative step forward, adjusting to my weight…

Tucked away between stacks of books in a cubby built for a diminutive reader in the children’s section of our library, I dreamily transformed myself into Alec Ramsey—Farley’s young male protagonist in The Black Stallion (1941). The Black Stallion captivated my imagination and spurred my love for horses; the librarian knowingly whispered magical titles, all incanting adventure: Misty of Chincoteague; Black Beauty; Billy and Blaze; King of the Wind; National Velvet. With each turned page, my vocabulary expanded, and my understanding of language usage and conventions grew. Effortlessly, I began to unconsciously understand the elements of story and writing while my spirit soared. Happy National Library Week!