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home : blogs_old : tone's book zone August 28, 2015

Tone's Book Zone
By Sue Tone
A blog for readers and book lovers. Postings will include information on book festivals, library activities, local authors, classroom visits, book groups, writing and publishing tips, reviews, bookmakers and bookmaking, and how volunteers can help children and adults acquire a love of reading.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Readers are definitely alive and well in the City

 by Sue Tone

Top, a father and son share a book at the ABC exhibit. Bottom, young girl totally engrossed at the Strand Bookstore.

Three days in New York photographing bright orange trees in Central Park, quirky neighborhoods, and the Hudson Valley took a backseat to what I found at the NYC Public Library during a return trip this past month.

Kids are still enchanted by books. Parents are still delighted with their children's enjoyment of books.

In May, my three sisters and I stopped in the Library, but saw a small portion of only the third floor when we met with an archivist. She showed us original black and white photos from the 1920s and 1940s taken by Lewis Hine, our second cousin two generations removed. That was all the time we had in the building.

So this trip I wanted to experience the entire library. My cousin Nina and I walked in the main entrance and straight into an exhibit called "The ABC of It, why children's books are important."

We saw the 1910 handwritten manuscript of Frances Hodgson Burnett who wrote The Secret Garden. She started writing at a young age to help support her widowed mother and family. As a teen, she told an editor, "My object is remuneration." She also said, "When you have a garden, you have a future."

We were astounded to find a case with the one and only book published by Lewis Hine, Men at Work. Hine said he wrote it because he thought young boys would get a kick out of seeing photographs about the construction of the Empire State Building.

The tag read, "Lewis Hine depicted construction workers and machinists as modern-day heroes who were more than equal to their seemingly Herculean tasks. The populist message had a special resonance for young people who were the likeliest to feel dwarfed by the scope and scale of a place like New York."

If you're lucky enough to own an original Men at Work, these days it is worth about $30,000.

In the little nooks and reading rooms set up in the exhibit, I watched a father reading Corduroy by Don Freeman to his young son, and a mother reading to her toddler.

That wasn't the only place we noticed youngsters enjoying the stories in book form.

We spent a few minutes looking around in the Strand, an independent bookstore in Greenwich Village, with its 2.5 million books occupying three and a half floors. There, tucked among the shelves and stacks of books, I spotted a pre-teen girl sitting cross-legged on the floor engrossed in a book.

To paraphrase Frances Hodgson Burnett: When you read books, you have a future.

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