Summer always reminds me of the public library in my hometown…

Summer meant freedom from tests and scholarly expectations.

Summer meant a chance to occasionally escape from my mother’s watchful eye and head over to the public library a few blocks from my childhood home. My sister and I would make a morning of it. Grabbing our bikes and heading out in the bright bayou sunlight. We both were voracious readers and every summer we were some of the first kids on our block to sign up for the summer reading program.

I learned to read when I was about four years old. Once the librarian realized I was very comfortable making my way around the written word, she no longer restricted me to “baby books”, and gave me free rein to explore the entire library. Every summer from age five until I left home at seventeen, my goal was to read at least one hundred books before I went back to school.

You read right.


Even at age five, I had an insatiable thirst for knowledge and read everything I could get my hands on.

Picture books

Chapter books.

Non-fiction books, although back then the children’s section didn’t have the wonderful diversity kids can find nowadays.

And, yes, even encyclopedias. I read them all because I even enjoyed researching random topics that crossed my young mind.

I would stuff as many of my book treasures into my bike’s basket as I could and race home to sneak into my bedroom to start on those imaginative journeys before my mother would drag me outside to work in the garden, or trim the hedges, or cut the grass, or any number of endless jobs she came up with to occupy my summer daylight hours.

I read about Black Beauty and Huckleberry Finn…about Horton and the Whos or the Lorax or even what happened on Mulberry Street. The first summer I was allowed a library card, I literally read every available book for my age and then some. The librarian started picking out different books I might like and I thought that building was the most magical place on earth (Sorry Disney!).

These days I still read hundreds of children’s books each year. Especially during the summer when I work with 40-50 children ages 4-12 years old each day at my Taekwondo school during our summer camp. Many of these children are either struggling readers, come from families where parents don’t enjoy reading so they never fostered a love of reading in their own children, or simply too young to even grasp the art of reading yet. 

So we read together. 

Usually over two hundred books a summer.


My younger goal driven ME would be so proud of today’s ME…







International best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers.

2 thoughts on “TALES FROM THE BAYOU: On A Book Bender

  • On those hot summer afternoons, reading was the only activity we could enjoy until later when it cooled down some. Every summer, as a kid, I checked out the same book from the library, The Silver Dagger. I don’t remember who wrote it, but it was published in the 60’s. There are other books with the same title that were published in recent years. I’d love to find the old one.


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