October 25, 2007
This week's column comes from a Highlands Ranch resident who discovered a surprising secret: some of the best writing we've got is in the children's room. By Manijeh Badiozamani, Ph.D., a Highlands Ranch Library patron
My Turn to Share My Story
A lot of parents take their young children to the library. I did the same when my son was young. And since we moved across the country from Iowa to Illinois, to Indiana and then to Idaho (exhausting all the “I” states), we had the privilege of visiting many different libraries. This may not sound like a big deal, but what I want to share is how I myself benefited by going to the children’s libraries.
Having a graduate degree in any particular field usually means we know a good amount about that specific field. It also means that we probably have researched and learned a great deal about one specific topic. It was only after I earned my Ph.D. that I realized how much more there was to know. Having had my early schooling in another continent, I also recognized the fact that there were times when I was at a disadvantage when it came to having certain background information. It felt like hitting potholes here and there on the education highway. That is when the children’s libraries came to my assistance.
Basic knowledge about any topic is always the starting point. For example, when I felt the desire and the need to learn about the history of the United States, I dashed to the children’s library, and gave myself a crash course in the U.S. history in simple language, because the facts don’t change. Or, when I became interested to learn about all the U.S. presidents and their wives my first stop was at the children’s library. I had no idea Abigail Adams argued the cause of women’s rights with her husband, John Adams, in 1776, and that it was Eleanor Roosevelt who transformed the role of First Lady and made it acceptable for the First Lady to have a life of her own. From Martha Washington to Laura Bush, and all the First Ladies in between, I gained the basic information about these women and their contributions, great or small, to our nation through the children’s section of the library.
To learn the simple and basic version of any topic such as history, geography, government, economics, law, art, religion, or even foreign languages, one can start at the children’s section. We can always expand on the information and augment the basic knowledge by reading more sophisticated material from the grown up section. For example, I let Gore Vidal expand my knowledge by taking me into the minds and private rooms of Presidents Washington, Adams and Jefferson, or let Cokie Roberts teach me about the 'Founding Mothers': the women who raised our nation.
When I see young mothers take their children to the library - particularly if like me they come from diverse cultural background - I think of all the basic information that is right there at their finger tips. I’m a grandmother now and my grandchildren live in Seattle but I have no qualms about walking into the children’s library all by myself. The staff is always friendly and ready to help. I pretend I’m an elementary school teacher who is getting ready to assign research work to her students – only I’m the student.