The other day, one of the morning news programs ran a segment on favorite teachers. Mine was Mrs.Harris. In those days, there was no PC honorific of “Ms.” and grade school students weren’t allowed to EVEN know a teacher’s first name. Mrs. Harris was the librarian at Celia Clinton Elementary.
When I started school, I was already reading. I’m not sure at what level, but I knew, for sure, it wasn’t DICK AND JANE. In fact, while the rest of my class struggled with their first reader, I used to smuggle in a book from home and stick it behind the D&J. When I got caught, my teacher (whose name I DON’T remember) asked my mom to keep me from reading at home so I wouldn’t get too far ahead of my class in reading. Of course, my mom said no; she just promised I wouldn’t bring older books to school, but I would be allowed to read what I wanted to at home.
I don’t remember when students first got to go to the library daily. I do remember thinking I had entered Heaven. I’d been in the Tulsa City-County Libraries (another piece of heaven), but irregularly. At school, I got to go EVERY DAY! What joy! 30 minutes every day to just sit and read. And, if I hadn’t finished the book,I got to take it home. I also got to meet my personal angel, Mrs. Harris, the library teacher.
By the time I hit fourth grade, I had read almost every book in my school library. (Except the “baby” books). Nancy Drew, the Black Stallion series, Robert Heinlein, those wonderful biographies in the orange hardcovers. I read my first SF, romance, and historical fiction…all genres I’m still in love with. Mrs. Harris who had been instrumental in introducing me to genres and authors of all kinds decided have me tutor other students who had weak reading skills.
She more than any other person (except my folks) gave me the magical world of books. She and I would talk books for hours. Mrs. Harris, I never go to tell you how much you enriched my world or even to thank you. But wherever you are, know there is at least one person who will never forget you. Thank you!