“Reading is the key that opens doors to many good things in life. Reading shaped my dreams, and more reading helped me make my dreams come true.” ~ Ruth Bader Ginsburg
If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have been busy reading the books I checked out of the library this week. I am often attracted to books with the word ‘library’ or ‘bookstore’ in their titles. So, one book that caught my attention was ‘The Book Woman’s Daughter’, by Kim Michele Richardson. It is a historical novel set in Appalachia and ‘the book woman’ is what the locals called the Pack Horse Librarian. She was a young woman who rode up into the hills and hollers bringing library books to the people there. The Pack Horse Library Project was started during the Depression through the WPA (Works Progress Administration). The women were paid $28/month and had to supply their own horses or mules. Some women would rent their horses from local farmers. There were many people who couldn’t read in Eastern Kentucky so the women would read the books to them as well.
To help combat illiteracy in that area there was another program called ‘Moonlight Schools’ started by Cora Wilson Stewart. Local schoolteachers volunteered to teach adults to read and write in the evening at the one room schoolhouses where they taught children during the day. The program was successful and copied in several other counties and states.
Another interesting part of the book is that the main character and her mother have a hereditary condition, called congenital methemoglobinemia, that causes their skin to be blue. It only affected the younger woman’s hands and feet, but it caused her to feel shame and she and her family suffered terrible discrimination because of it. There was a real group of people in Kentucky who had this hereditary trait.
I really admire the Pack Horse Librarians and the great teachers who provided these wonderful services to their communities. The Pack Horse Library Project ran from 1935-1943. After that there were more accessible roads for the introduction of bookmobiles.
You can read more about the Moonlight School program of Kentucky here.
Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Natalie at Natalie the Explorer.
Stream of Consciousness Saturday, #SOCS, is hosted by Linda G Hill. The prompt for today is ‘key.’