The Borrowed Book


I met Jeff at a farmers market where he was accompanying his young granddaughter. He shared memories of Mrs. Bryan, the third grade teacher who inspired his love of books.

As a young boy, there were many things I liked about school, but reading was not one. I was capable, but not enthusiastic. Then I walked into Mrs. Bryan’s classroom. The first thing I noticed was the enormous shelf full of books. We were encouraged to borrow a book to read when our assignments were completed. I decided to choose the biggest one on the shelf in hopes of impressing my friends. As I flipped through the pages of The Encyclopedia of Insects, I became fascinated by the detailed pictures of insects up close, and then I started to read the facts on the pages. Each day, I finished my tasks quickly so I could take the book out of my desk and read more. Other students asked Mrs. Bryan if they could borrow the book. She always replied that the book would be available when I was finished with it.

Mrs. Bryan leveraged my love of insects by suggesting other related books in the school library. She even convinced me to check out a fiction book with insect characters. I kept The Encyclopedia of Insects inside my desk as a reference. The other students never had a chance. On the last day of school, as we packed up our belongings, she handed me the book. She had written a note on the inside cover, “This belongs with you. Keep reading and keep learning.”

That book has had a special place on my shelf, and Mrs. Bryan has held a place in my heart for decades. She made me a lover of books.

Jeff’s story caused me to reflect on the power of putting the right book in the hands of a child. When teachers give students choice in reading, they inspire a lifelong habit. Was there a special teacher who helped you find the right book? Share in the comments below.

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