Tim J. Myers Roars!
Library Lions Roars in spring with author Tim J. Myers Tim Myers is a writer, songwriter, storyteller, and university senior lecturer in English. See his amazing Bio. Tim’s here to share his children’s books and his enthusiasm for libraries with us. Take it away Tim!
I’m Tim J. Myers, and I write for all ages. I have 20 books out, 15 of them for young readers, and some new things on the way. I’m also a professional storyteller and a university senior lecturer, as well as huge fan of peanut-butter cups.
Funding for libraries, especially school libraries, is currently under threat. As an author, what are your thoughts about that?
You know, that’s like asking, “Funding for our food system is currently under threat. As a human, what are your thoughts about that?” Books are food for mind and spirit, not to mention the heart—and of course this is also true of all the other forms of media modern libraries carry. Funding libraries is investing in human culture itself, and has a profound and direct effect on the health of our communities, our nation, our world. I ALWAYS vote for funding for libraries when I can. There’s nothing but upside!
I grew up in a loving home but one that was more or less empty of literacy. My parents never took us to the public library, and I was rarely in the small library at my Catholic school. So I wasn’t a book-oriented kid at all—and yet I still felt the spell of books, if only at a distance. I used to comb through the adult books in our house but rarely found anything I could stick with. I remember vividly one of the only two books my parents bought me, the 1963 Reader’s Digest Treasury for Young Readers
The cover calls out to me even today. I remember this book page by page and could recite a number of the titles, not to mention go into detail on what those stories meant to me. I bring this up because I now see how impoverished my young life was in terms of reading; if this ONE book could have such a strong impact, how much more could I have learned about and loved through a steady diet of books?! And what of course is the opposite of that impoverishment, which still inflicts millions of young people? Not only book-loving parents—but well-funded libraries! Jeeze, I’d march under that banner—I know what it means for the betterment of the whole world.
A Lion’s Pride of Programs
I love doing school visits, and I’m fortunate in that I often work with school librarians. I find us simpatico to an amazing degree.
I walk into what are, after all, ordinary rooms—but most of which have been transformed by passionate, kid-loving, book-loving librarians into—well, the color, the energy, the warmth, it all makes me think of a second home. And I get to talk to librarians who not only share my passion for books but for lots of other things too. I don’t believe that a human being has to be literate to be worthy; lots of amazing people have little or no literacy skills. But overall, the people I know and admire most love books and are inveterate readers. There’s something so profoundly expansive in reading, and librarians embody that. And of course in school libraries I often see children interacting with the world of books—and it’s almost invariably a rich interaction.
I love school visits too because of the great joy of sharing literacy experiences with kids. My children’s books are sometimes wild, or funny, or spooky, or tricky, and I love to read them aloud. And I usually tell stories—I especially love myths and folktales—and I can hardly express the joy I feel in doing that. My kid audiences LOVE all this—their excitement gets me excited too. If I could sum it all up, I’d say that it’s almost like we’re dancing—dancing together with language.
Library Love When You Were a Cub
As I mentioned above, the library wasn’t generally part of my life growing up. But I remember one moment very vividly. My uncle, Father Rawley Myers, was a Catholic priest and a writer, and when I was in fifth grade I discovered one of his books, This Is the Seminary, in my school library. I’d read the book at home and loved it (I actually entertained thoughts of joining the priesthood, but my awakening interest in girls quickly put the kaibosh to that). But to see it in my school library blew me away.
Proud enough to bust my buttons, I immediately told my friend Mike Stapp about it. To my astonishment, he refused to believe me. I took him to the book, pointed to my uncle’s name on the spine. But Mike was convinced that our identical last name was just a coincidence, and that I was trying to trick him.
As frustrated as I was, I learned something that day. A lot of people are so removed from the world of writers that they don’t think of them as real. They KNOW writers are real people, but writers seem so far off and “special” that it’s hard to imagine a “regular person” being one. But of course writers—no matter how great or famous—are human beings just like the rest of us. And if you think of writers as real people, you’re much more likely to identify with them, read their books—gosh, maybe even write or become a writer yourself. So that day I learned one more important thing—in a library.
I’m in libraries all the time. For one thing, I love them as physical places; I love being surrounded by books, by people reading, and I love that quiet but lively atmosphere I so often feel in public libraries. I’m also very fortunate to have a university library at my disposal; the library at Santa Clara University, where I teach, is beautiful and amazing. To me a library is a treasure house—it’s like the Cave of Aladdin, only with ten thousand times the wealth. If I found Aladdin’s treasure—well, I don’t wear jewelry, and I’d only use coins to buy, among other things, more books! Besides, it’s the nature of writing that a single book can be more precious than all the gold on Earth.
Of course I do a lot of my writing research online. But I do plenty in libraries too, and I’m especially grateful for inter-library loan programs. I usually grade my students’ papers in libraries too—and since I love the feel of a library, I think I give them slightly better grades because of it!
Love for Librarians
You ask about librarians I particularly love—but holy cats! There are so many that I could never begin to list them. I’d be afraid of leaving someone out, for one thing. Asking about my favorite librarians is like asking about my favorite books—there are just too many.
ONE LAST BIG ROAR
What is a library? It’s almost like a geode. My most recent book, The Thunder Egg, is about a Cheyenne girl who discovers a plain gray stone that, when shattered by lightning, reveals glowing purple crystals at its center.
Isn’t this what a library is too? Many people see libraries as dusty, boring places—when in fact a library is a world, a world of worlds, a portal to wonders, an immense orchard of knowledge, a history of what humanity itself has felt and thought and undergone. If we all saw libraries for what they really are, each would be as beautiful on the outside as a medieval cathedral. Because they’re already that beautiful on the inside.
Thank you, Tim, for your terrific interview!
Note to Librarians: If you’re a Youth Librarian working in a school or public library we’d love to hear about you and your library. Email Janet via the Contact page on this website to set up an interview.
Note to Authors: If you’re interested in Roaring for Libraries on this blog, contact Janet.