Scholastic author Melinda, who has just published the second book, The Sleeping Prince, in her planned trilogy, is a passionate supporter of school libraries as you can read for yourself in this exclusive blog:
"I can still remember the first book I ever took out of the school library. I wasn’t a very popular child; a combination of being a know-it-all teacher’s pet, and also not having the ‘right’ clothes, bag or pencil case, meant I spent a lot of time on my own at school.
Reading was a refuge.
But sadly for me, none of my family were big readers. My father read daily newspapers, and we had a TV guide magazine, but they preferred their stories on screen. So my access to books was limited to the few I got as presents at Christmas and occasionally, magically, from the visiting Scholastic Book Fair.
Imagine then, my joy when I discovered the school library.
Picture it: I’m perhaps eight, or nine, and near my classroom there’s another room, full of books. It’s been there the whole time I’ve been at school, and it’s called The Library. Sometimes we go in there and look at the books. We’re allowed to pull them from the shelf and take them to a table. We copy things out of them. We look up facts about the Ancient Egyptians, and rainforests in them. Then we put them back. We do this a couple of times every term, and I like this room a lot. It’s quiet, the other kids seem keen to avoid it, and, as previously mentioned, it’s full of books.
As rooms go, it’s pretty much all I’ve ever wanted.
The room has a guardian, she’s called The Librarian. She is frightening, but in a good way. She controls all of the books and that makes her awesome, in the very literal sense.
That too, is pretty much all I’ve ever wanted.
Imagine then, that somehow I end up in there one rainy lunchtime. I can’t remember the reason now, maybe I got bored of colouring in. Maybe I wanted to look something up for a project, or maybe I pretended I did. But for whatever reason, I went into the library and discovered that as well as having books full of facts, it had books full of stories too. I pulled one from the shelf and took it to the table. And I started to read it.
It was Jenny Nimmo’s The Snow Spider, and I picked it up because it was about magic and Wales, which were (and still are) two of my favourite things. In fact I’d just got back from a holiday in Wales with my Nan, and I was craving more misty spookiness, and it seemed to me that The Snow Spider was just the thing. I was right. I loved it. When the bell rang to signal the end of lunchtime, I was heartbroken, and I prayed it would rain the next day, and the next, and the next, so I could come back and finish it. Then I stood up and went to put it back.
“Do you want to take it home?” said the librarian.
I didn’t understand what she meant. So she explained. One of the main functions of the library was to lend books to readers so that they could take them home and read there. If I filled out a little card with my name and my classroom on, I could borrow two books, for two weeks. Then I had to bring them back and when I did, I could take two more.
I surveyed the vast kingdom of the library. Then I filled out the little card. And it was that small piece of magic that began my lifelong love affair with libraries. I wish so much I could remember the librarian’s name. She didn’t just give me books to read, she gave me the keys to a kingdom."
To show their support for school librarians Scholastic are giving away 5 signed copies of The Sleeping Prince.
Please email Rachel Phillipps firstname.lastname@example.org to enter.
Melinda is also available for writing workshops in secondary schools. If you would like to know more please email email@example.com
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