Why?

Libraries. Books. They are important.

My mother, Jackie Newton, was the Children’s and Youth Librarian at the Millicent Library in Fairhaven, MA, where I spent my chidlhood. It is impossible for me to fully describe her love for children and literacy in a WordPress post, but I will do my best.

As a typical kid, I had no idea how much work she really did. Here are some highlights:

  • She did Story Hour once a week for the toddler-and preschool-aged set.
  • She did movie nights for teens.
  • She coordinated summertime activities for preteens too young to work but too old for camp.
  • She was one of the librarians who got to drive Fairhaven’s Bookmobile until it was retired in 1986.
  • She took her book wagon and “Witchie-Poo” puppet to every elementary school in Fairhaven.
  • Yearly, she planned and executed an enormous event – the annual Teddy Bear Parade on our church lawn across the street from the library. She was one of many people who have made this special day possible since its inception in 1984.
  • She even helped to make accommodations as comfortable as possible for the Crown Prince of Japan and his wife, Princess Michiko, when they came to visit for the first Manjiro Festival in 1988. Here they are touring the library in the center of the picture, he in a gray suit and she in pink with a pillbox hat. Why all this fanfare, you ask? Here are another couple of cool links about the Manjiro Society and John Manjiro Nakahama.
  • We benefited from her work on a daily basis. We got to participate in almost every event she planned. Best part: she would always bring new books home for us to read! I marveled at her ability to read upside-down. She took great care to make everything interesting for us, including adopting different voices for book characters.

There is more, but these are some of the biggest things I remember.

Jackie did her soul’s work by helping children learn to love reading. She also helped to energize our community through planning fun events and innovative ways to learn.

When I heard that our friend, librarian Ann Richard, had founded Fairhaven’s first Little Free Library outside the house on Hedge Street where my mother grew up, my mind was blown. I wanted to do something to honor my mother’s memory in a way that would also be good and fun for Gloucester, the community where our ancestors settled and where our family began. I thought that founding a Little Free Library in Gloucester would be the perfect way to do it. Over a year later, here we are!

Thank you for your support. Thank you for reading. See you on the Landing!

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