Former newspaper reporter Sharon Ervin has a degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. She writes in several genres, but I first met her (virtually, of course) when I discovered and read her Five Star mystery, The Ribbon Murders. Her most recent tale of mayhem is Candlesticks, a Jancy Dewhurst Mystery.
Four Little Words by Sharon Ervin, Guest Blogger
Four little words launched many writers, including me. Those four little words still make me tingle.
Daddy worked nights. Evenings when he was home, he read to me. A first child gets attention from parents that later offspring do not. Back then, being read to was one of those advantages.
I remember sitting on Daddy’s lap and, later on, snuggled close beside him, pointing out words I recognized before I could actually read. I could recite “The Night Before Christmas” before I was five, a result of Daddy’s reading it over and over again.
He and I went downtown by ourselves one night, to the massive, art deco Oklahoma City Library. I still remember the hush and the rich, mingled fragrances of polished oak and books. The rooms had high ceilings and ladders that gave patrons access to the upper shelves. Waving his hand, Daddy said, “See these books? They all belong to you.”
I would have to read fast if I were to get through all “my books.”
Volumes in the children’s area welcomed me. I belonged there. Books became my friends.
Mother and Daddy divorced when I was was ten. My sister was seven. Both of my parents remarried and had other children. Busy, they didn’t take time to read to my siblings, but I did. I introduced them to libraries as I was introduced, and saw that they had library cards and visited regularly.
With television and all the electronic devices today, most busy parents don’t read to their children. Kids develop their love of words and reading by other methods…or not.
My growing up families and, later, my own offspring, moved around the country. Uncertain at first in a new place, we learned to feel at home as soon as we found a local library. Antiquated or thoroughly modern, libraries were familiar, still often smelling like polished oak and books.
My husband and I and our four children, and now their children, are active library patrons. One son who lives away, enjoys online access and e-mails us from his neighborhood library.
Grandchildren, not only check out books, but they borrow CDs and DVDs from their libraries. Like their parents and grandparents, they have learned that all the materials and the expertise available at public libraries belong to them, and they make good use of their access.
This love of books and libraries and reading began as I snuggled in my Daddy’s lap all those years ago. He often began our sessions together with those four little words I grew to love.
Those words still make me smile and provide a warm glow. Most of us know those words, have heard them all our lives. They are: “Once upon a time….”
Sharon, thanks so much for sharing your story with us today. Those of us who love books and grew up hoping to read all the books in the world understand just what those four words can mean.
You can learn more about Sharon and her books at her website or her Amazon Kindle page. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.
Sharon Ervin says
Pat, I got a wonderful holiday lift from comments on your (our) blog. Thank you.
Patricia Stoltey says
Thanks a bunch to Sharon for being my guest this week, and thanks to all who dropped by (or will drop by later) to read and leave comments. I appreciate you all so much.
Maryann Miller says
Loved your story, Sharon. A great reminder of why so many of us write, because we love to read.
Mary F. Schoenecker Writes says
Pat & Sharon,
A heartwarming blog to start the Christmas season, indeed! I always love the “I remember when…essays and this “Once upon a time” blog fits right in. THE RIBBON MURDERS and CANDLESTICKS are on my shelf, too, Pat. Sharon & I go way back with Five Star, and I am priveleged to have her praise blurbs on one of my series books. Thanks for bringing us all together on this post.
Dean K Miller says
A wonderful story to touch hearts…especially this time of year. Alas, those four words someday say:
Once upon a time, I got published…
Thanks Pat. Another great guest on your blog. I like how you roll…and how you write!
Hilary Melton-Butcher says
Hi Patricia and Sharon .. wonderful read – we were too far away from town .. but I spent hours reading from the various books we had – and never seemed short of them. And used my school library comprehensively when I boarded ..
Definitely children deserve the attention you, Sharon, were able to give them .. and imbue others .. wonderful to read ..
Cheers – Hilary
Jemi Fraser says
Great post! I agree – so many magical times and memories start with Once Upon a Time 🙂
Sharon Ervin says
Susan, You inspired a new thought. Reading together allows for physical closeness and the one-on-one attention children sometimes need. There are some “languages” that don’t have to be learned. Genuine caring––given and received––is one of those.
Thanks for new thoughts.
Susan Oleksiw says
Years and years ago, while still in college, I volunteered to work with mentally challenged children at a day camp. No matter how energetic our wild they got, they always settled down when I picked up a book and started to read to them. It didn’t matter what it was–poetry, fiction, even the newspaper–they knew it was something special. Thanks for the lovely post, Sharon.
Alex J. Cavanaugh says
That’s awesome your parents instilled the desire for books and reading in your early.
Talli Roland says
What wonderful memories. Both my parents love reading, and they definitely instilled that in me.
Jacqueline Seewald says
Hi, Sharon and Pat,
In my family, it was my mother who shared a love of reading and books with me. I read to both our sons when they were children, became a school librarian and an English teacher and read to my students as well. Now I read to my grandchildren. It’s a wonderful thing to share!
Patricia Stoltey says
I feel exactly the same as Jack when I’m into a good book. 🙂
Sharon Ervin says
Dear Margot and Nancy,
Funny how writing this little blog stimulated me. Yesterday, our older son called with a minor emergency. Could I pick Jack, 6, up at school? The weather was blustery, so we couldn’t go outside, always Jack’s preference. I dug out an old fairy tale book, gave Jack a stalk of grapes, and I began reading. Pacing at first, with his grapes, Jack circled close to see pictures in the book. He said “Stop,” ran to throw the empty stalk in the trash, then returned to stand at my knee. A man of few words, he said, “Go.”
Jack is always happy to see his daddy, yesterday, not to much. Joe asked what we were doing. “Reading.” Joe looked at the book, smiled a knowing smile, and scooped Jack up to go home. He knew exactly why Jack was not as enthusiastic as usual. Interrupting stories used to bug Joe, too. It’s tradition.
I grew up in a house with parents who loved books, too, and I count myself very lucky. Both my sister and I are now writers (like my Dad). So it has a huge impact.
Wonderful post, thanks for sharing.
Margot Kinberg says
Pat – Thanks for hosting Sharon.
Sharon – Libraries are such magical places, aren’t they? I fell in love with libraries at a very young age, too, and still am. Thanks for sharing your story and yes, Once upon a time are magical words indeed…