I wish that Nancy knew how much impact she had on me.
She, like many librarians I’ve gotten to meet, who are really my heroes,
let you know that the library is for everybody.
Children’s book author Yuyi Morales writes a Gratitude Letter
Do you remember me? I could never forget you. True, at first I might have been scared of you, guardian at your desk, and too close to the basket of baby books that my son always walked towards when we entered this unbelievable place. The children’s book section of the Western Addition public library.
I remember years later, I came to visit you. You told me that my expression had changed. “How so?” I asked. “In those days, in those first days, when you and Kelly came to look at books,” you said, “You always look sad.”
Nancy, I was very sad. I was heartbroken. Feeling the weight of having to raise my son in a country where I didn’t know the language. And I could not make myself understood. A place where I felt very alone.
At first, I might have been afraid of you. What if I made a mistake? Or broke the library rules? Would you tell us to leave the library because we didn’t belong? Instead one day, you talk to me, in English I didn’t quite understand, and before we knew, you were giving Kelly a library card.
Today, Kelly is a 24-year-old lover of books. And he often helps me review and correct my still imperfect English when I write the children’s books I create. Books like the ones you put in my hands. Nancy, ever since the library became my home, and books became my path for growth, you have been an amazing guardian. Thank you.
Writing this letter made me feel that this is not only a history for me. This is an essential part of how I even live now. This is still very much alive.
I’ve been working on a picture book ... It’s called Dreamers. And this book, it’s kind of like a letter of gratitude to Nancy.
I remember feeling like I had nothing. What am I bringing here? What am I offering?
And it took me awhile to realize that in fact I had brought so many things.
And in Dreamers, I think that’s what my voice is trying to say.
That we immigrants carry so many things with us.
That we bring our stories. We bring our voices. We bring our memories. We bring our colors.
And once I arrived here, like many immigrants, we do put that in the table.
We bring our arms, we bring our strength, we bring our work, we bring our creativity.
We bring the best that we can, to create a better life.
Not only for us.
For our children, and for the rest of the world.