Help! I’m a Prisoner in the Library!


When I was six, my parents and I went on vacation to Hawaii.  Even though I was young, I still remember most of the trip because the landscape of Hawaii was such a contrast to my home state of Maine.  To explore such a foreign and exotic location made a lasting impression on me.

I remember the seemingly endless plane ride and the horrible jet lag that followed. On the brighter side, I remember waking up at five in the morning to climb up to the roof and gaze at double rainbows. I remember walking on the beach and stumbling upon a secluded waterfall. I remember eating a hamburger in a restaurant where cats came and went from the kitchen as they pleased. (As a six-year-old with a strong affinity for cats that bordered on obsession, the health and safety implications of this did not bother me. I was pleased, in fact, to eat at a restaurant that would treat humans and cats as equals).

Perhaps most importantly, during this vacation I took a huge step forward as a reader. I finished my first chapter book by myself. The book was the current read a loud in my 1st grade classroom: Help! I’m a Prisoner in the Library! by Eth Clifford.  I had already heard the first couple of chapters in class.  My mom, determined that I would not fall behind during my two-week absence, searched the bookstore on the island and (somewhat miraculously) found a copy.

She would read a couple of chapters to me each evening.  One night, during a particularly suspenseful plot point, I thought, “I want to know what happens next.”  I had thought this many times before, but I never had the tools necessary to do anything about it.  With five months of 1st grade under my belt, I was finally ready to tackle the chapter book solo.  That night, I attempted what I had only thought about before:  I kept reading.  I’m sure I had a few vocabulary questions for my mom along the way, but by the plane ride home I had finished the book on my own.

Just like Hawaii seemed like another world to me, I was starting to discover innumerable magical worlds between the covers of a book.  And the best part was I didn’t need to rely on anyone to get to these worlds.  Not my teachers, my parents, or even a pilot.  Self-sufficient reading gave me independence that I had never felt before.

My love of reading has stayed with me my entire life.  I like to think that my first chapter book influenced me at a young age in terms of my career choice.  My love of reading goes hand in hand with my livelong love of libraries.  Now, I am lucky enough to work in my hometown library’s Children’s Department.  And, I will admit, when locking up for the night, I always do a thorough job of checking for patrons to make sure there are no “prisoners in the library.”


1 Comment

Filed under the joys of reading

One response to “Help! I’m a Prisoner in the Library!

  1. Pingback: Blog challenge! | The Lupine Librarian

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