The COVID-19 pandemic has put libraries nationwide in uncharted territory. We miss our customers, we miss interacting with them, and we miss hosting programs that educate and inspire.
We've created this blog series, Stories from Before, chronicling the stories of customers who ♥ all the Library offers, be it Storytime or Summer Reading, Books By Mail, English Language Classes, and much more. We hope these uplifting stories can help us all get through these challenging times and think about a brighter future.
"It’s hard to read in the shower, but maybe we could try an umbrella": Summer Reading enthusiasts read all day, every day
It’s the day before the 2019 Summer Reading program begins and when asked if they’re excited, twins Amariyah and Amaris Lopez exclaim in unison, “YES! We’re so excited. We’ll pick up our trackers first thing tomorrow.”
Last year, the girls finished filling out their trackers in one week. It’s unsurprising, really. The sisters say they read all day, every day. They also like to snack.
“Basically,” says Amariyah, “I get a book and a banana—they’re my favorite. I read, read, read, go get another banana and then read some more.” Amaris chimes in, “Same for me, but I like grapes better.”
They have a collection of about 40 to 60 books at home, but they prefer going to the Sahuarita Library. Once, when Amariyah had to memorize a passage for church, she chose Barbara Huff’s poem “The Library.” The words ring true for the sisters:
You cannot tell its magic
By the way the building looks,
But there’s wonderment within it,
The wonderment of books
The way the girls talk about books is giggle-inducing. “We used to read in the bath,” says Amariyah, “but now we take showers. It’d be hard to read in the shower, but maybe we could try an umbrella.” Amaris adds, “When we were little, we’d grab books and bring them to Mom. We’d say, ‘It’s time to read, read, read.’ It’s probably why we both wear glasses now.”
When asked about their favorite books, a list as long as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows spills out. Amaris loves the How to Train a Dragon series. Stretching her hands across the table, she says, “One of the books was this big!” Amariyah’s favorites include the Nancy Drew and Keepers of the Lost City series.
They also read books about their hobbies. Amariyah is currently reading about wingspans. “I want to create a flying machine,” she says. Amaris is devouring books about dog training. “My dog Daisy will have puppies soon, so I’m learning how to care for them.”
For the sisters, reading isn’t just about words on a page. “You get to become a part of the story,” says Amaris. “When the characters are really happy or scared or sad, you get happy or scared or sad, too. I see and hear the words coming out of the characters’ mouths like I’m there. Once, I was reading a spooky story and when I looked up, I realized I wasn’t in it. I was just sitting on the couch. Thank goodness!”
Amariyah’s connection with books is just as deep. “Sometimes I get mad at the characters and I think, ‘Please don’t go and do that,’ and then they do it anyway. They just don’t listen to me.”
The girls—and their mother, Alicia—credit their love of reading for their creativity. When they’re not reading, they’re writing. They’ve written stories about a pet t-rex and a baby cheetah. Amariyah says, “There’s Twiggy, too. He’s a twig that was given legs from a magic necklace found in a volcano.” Their characters speak Dragonese, a language they created.
For now, though, they’ve got to get ready for Summer Reading. Amariyah says she’ll probably start by re-reading Matilda or The War Horse. Amaris says, “I’m going to read Nancy Drew. I’m on number 10, and I want to finish them.” When asked if she will, she smiles and replies, “Who knows, it’s a mystery!” She’ll likely add the Hardy Boys to this year’s reading pile. “Some say those are just for boys… not me!”
The Sahuarita Library holds a special place in this family’s heart. They’ve been regulars there since they started attending Toddler Storytime when the girls were three years old. “When we walk in,” their mother says, “we feel like we’re walking into home.”
The feeling is mutual for staff of the Library. Library Associate Alex says, “We have some of the best memories with the Lopez family.”
When Cynthia, the girls’ older sister, got a letter after applying for the Tucson Youth Orchestra, the first thing she did was run to the library. Alex and Tenecia, Library Manager, stood right by her as she opened the envelope (she got in!). Once, when the Library didn’t have Nancy Drew 5 and 6, Tenecia brought in her own copies. She told Amaris, “I trust you entirely with these.” The staff went to see the girls perform in Shrek. They brought flowers. They took pictures. They celebrated right alongside the family.