How I Became a Reader and Bookworm
I have been reading since the age of three. I’m told I taught myself. I couldn’t stand being dependent on other people to read all those wonderful stories to me. I wanted to devour them on my own.
As soon as we moved within walking distance of the library in my suburban town of Bellflower in Los Angeles County, I made visits almost every day, checking out the maximum allowed. The branch librarian never checked to see if I’d brought enough books back to cover the new ones I checked out. By the time I hit junior high I had read through everything in the children’s section I was interested in.
By the time I was in high school I moved to the adult department. I was soon helping other patrons find things. That’s probably why the branch librarian hired me as a clerk as soon as I graduated from high school. I never even had to be a page first. It was a job I loved. I was offered the job of assistant branch manager when I was 19, but my parents felt it would interfere with my eventual goal of becoming a librarian. I needed to go to UCLA for my last two years of college, and commuting was out of the question.
UCLA , Teaching, and Bookstore Years
As luck would have it, I met the man who is now my husband at UCLA. We met in the dorm at a special dinner on Halloween. He wanted to do his graduate work in Long Beach. There was no library school near Long Beach, so I got my teaching credential and became an English teacher for a couple of years.
Teaching was not a good fit for me. Books were my passion. I wanted to share them with others. So when the door opened for me to work at a Christian bookstore in Westwood, near UCLA, I couldn’t turn it down. I stayed there for nine years until I moved again.
It was my favorite job. Employees were encouraged to take the books home to read so we could recommend them to customers. I read entire sections. I had customers who depended upon me to suggest what they should read next.
After the move, I managed a Hallmark store for a few months, but it was not a good fit. While I was awaiting another job opportunity, something even better turned up — a ready-made family. You can read how that happened here: How I Became a Foster Parent. We started as foster parents, but adopted the children as soon as they were free for adoption.
Reading Together During the Parenting and Home Schooling Years
The nine years of parenting brought a lot more children’s books into our lives, since we read to and with our children. We home schooled them for the last three years they were with us, and reading aloud as a family was one of our favorite activities. We discovered oodles of great books during that time.
But the time was too short. Our nest emptied very suddenly when Jason was fourteen. Here’s how it happened. His sister decided to leave a year earlier. She never recovered from Jason’s death and never lived with us again. We were out of touch completely during the last years of her life.
The Home Schooling Vendor Years
When the children were gone, so was most of my daily routine. Homeschooling had been my life. Our social life was mostly with other homeschooling families. Suddenly there was a void. I then made an emotional decision to become a home school vendor. I suppose it was a way to work out my grief. Home school families were seeking me out for advice on which teaching materials to buy and I decided I may as well sell them myself instead of sending people elsewhere.
I loved real books more than workbooks and curriculum, so I tried to keep up with the new books being published. I had the opportunity to go to Book Expo — the biggest book trade show in the United States — two or three times. That supplied me with many free books to review and exposed me to all the new titles. I bought a truck full and sold them at home school conventions around the country as Barb’s People Builders. Later I got a warehouse full. I still have a warehouse filled with some of the best children’s books and curriculum materials around.
Moving Book Selling to the Internet
We stopped the travel in 1996 after my husband’s hips gave out. We took the business online then as Barb’s People Builders. It’s never been a fancy website, but it’s still a good resource for those who teach in schools or at home.
As I am now ready to retire, I’d like to sell out my inventory and earn my income by writing and recommending books to others for affiliate income. That leaves the selling expenses and shipping to others and leave me free to do what I love most — read and share books.
For a slightly different perspective and more details, read “My Nose Has Always Been In a Book.”