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Eighth grade. I was sitting in Mrs. Wolffes’s English class wearing bell-bottom hip-huggers and a smock top. I wore small gold wire-framed glasses and my nails were perfectly manicured in frosty lilac. At the end of class Mrs. Wolffes approached me and said she had just finished a book she thought I would enjoy. She gave me the title and the author’s name; Zelda by Nancy Milford.
I had always loved books and never went to school without a paperback to read before final bell and in between classes, so it really shouldn’t have been a surprise that my English teacher would recommend a book to me. But this wasn’t just any book. It was a thoroughly adult book; a biography of Zelda Fitzgerald, filled with all of the recklessness and madness that permeated the lives of Scott and Zelda during the Jazz Age.
That night I insisted that my mother take me to the bookstore so I could get this book. I devoured it. I loved it. I felt special that my teacher had recognized that I was ready for this book. I read it again as an adult and loved it just as much. This small act by a teacher meant a great deal to me. I went on to get an undergraduate degree in English Literature and a masters’ degree in Library and Information Studies.
We all have opportunities to impact someone’s life for the better with a good book. April 23 is World Book Night. You can be a book giver and hand out 20 copies of a book to light or nonreaders. You could change a life. Apply to be a book giver by January 5. The Tulsa City-County Library is a distribution site this year, so you can pick up your books at the library. Go forth and change lives!