Friday, July 29, 2016

Book Review: Clara and the Bookwagon

Clara and the Bookwagon
by Nancy Smiler Levinson
Columbus, Ohio: Weekly Reader Books, 1988

“Clara and the Bookwagon” is a reader that I recently discovered at my local library. It’s an older book, but one which I enjoyed so much I wanted to recommend it. 

Clara is a farm girl living in Maryland around 1900. She does not go to school because there are no schools for farm children. Instead, she spends her days working hard on the farm. She has a vivid imagination and loves stories and has a secret wish to learn how to read. 

When she visits the general store in town with her father, she wants to borrow a book from the free book station located there, but her father refuses, telling her, “Farm people like us do not have time to read.”

Some time later, Miss Mary comes to visit her farm with her traveling book wagon. She tries to lend Clara a book, but the young girl remembers what her father said and turns it down. The librarian offers to go talk to her father for her and even offers to teach Clara to read.

This wonderful tale is based on the true story of Mary Lemist Titcomb, the head of the Hagerstown, Maryland public library, who started book stations in general stores, churches, and homes. In 1905, she began the first horse-drawn bookmobile. 

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