The Magic Card

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How books help | Take your child, teen, self or therapist to the local library

‘Books are a uniquely portable magic.’ Stephen King. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

If I say ‘Magic Card’ do you think Ace of Spades tricks or shopping sprees with a no-limit platinum? Or did you immediately think of your humble library card? No wrong answers.

This story is about libraries and the potent magic that lives inside. I was lucky enough to have a father who dropped me off for glorious hours in the library. I lounged in stiff leather chairs, or on the napless grey carpet favored by public institutions, plunging into pictures and fantasies. I definitely didn’t care about the comfort of the place. I was only concerned with how many books I could pile to my chin, and then check out at one go.

I needed those books, a constant stream of stories that brought delight, escape and comfort. They may have also opened my mind a little, or boosted my academic standing, but they were there for the magic. Imagined adventures with the Famous Five, an imagined destination on an island frilled with cherry blossoms, and wider destinations, into the heart of being a black American man, or a Jewish girl confined to a cupboard.

From my bed, as parents shouted, as my world shook, I rode away on mustangs to Chincoteague, or found a cozy attic refuge with a lonely princess. I had wise guides in my life courtesy of Dr. Seuss or Ursula Le Guin. Later, the collective wisdom of Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro reflected the stark truths and possibilities of becoming a woman.

In all of the sad, and occasional terrifying times in my life, books have always been there. Books are the very best of friends, full of amusing stories. Or satisfying schadenfreude when the story is much worse than my own. Or that winged seed of inspiration as I’m conjured into a City of Joy that is reading.

When I worked in a country counselling practice, I more than once walked down the hill with a teen or adult client using a precious therapy session to help them get acquainted with their local library. Often for the first time ever, they acquired their own ‘Magic Card’. Because sometimes escape in the imagination is the only option.

Interesting links about reading, imagination and Dr Seuss quotes (just because): (Stephen King)  (Dominique Lapierre) (Margaret Atwood) (Alice Munro) (Ursula K. Le Guin) (Dr. Seuss)

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