Episode 13: From Reluctant Reader to Librarian with Harold Hayes

Episode 13: From Reluctant Reader to Librarian with Harold Hayes

Do you have a reluctant reader at home? Perhaps even yourself? Have you become distanced from your local, public library? Hear an inspiring story about a mom’s persistence paying off big-time and how this now-bookworm loves his job as a public library director – and of course, get lots of ideas about resources that may be available to you at your library, in this episode: From reluctant reader to librarian.

This week we are joined by a wonderful man and strong librarian- Harold Hayes, director of the Samuels Public Library in Front Royal Virginia. His career in public libraries has fostered his interest in things such as access to information and the role literacy and information have on societies and the democratic process. Harold is a proponent for books and reading both in his personal and professional life and is passionate about reading aloud to children, a passion that came about at least in part because of his own experiences struggling to read as a child. From those struggles years ago to his role today as a public library director, his is an inspiring story!

From a reluctant reader to librarian:

1. Harold’s rough start with reading- he struggled for years and did not start reading proficiently until he was in 6th grade.

2. Despite his struggles reading himself, he stayed interested in books and he credits his “saintly mother,”(Harold’s words!) who he said read to them a lot and, “always put… those stories out in front of us that captured our interest and therefore challenged our ability to read at a higher and better level…”

3. The summer after Harold’s fourth grade year his family took a road trip from Wisconsin down along the Mississippi River and she read the book Tom Sawyer out loud to him and his four siblings as they drove, following a similar path Tom Sawyer travels in the book. It made the story alive and memorable for Harold, who, at the time, could not have read and understood that book himself.

4. To go from such a reluctant reader to the career he has now, Harold had to turn some corners. In the sixth grade, Harold found a book at a library used book sale and used it for a book report he was required to do for school. It was about a boy and his dog and something about it really clicked with Harold and he devoured every dog story he could find, “harassing [his] poor school librarian” for more. 

5. Looking back on his reading journey, Harold’s advice to anyone going through similar experiences with their children is to look in to Jim’s Trelease and the benefits of reading aloud as well as to let yourself give kids what they want to read, as opposed to what you think they should read.

5. Harold has worked in public libraries for years and he told us that one of his favorite things about it is the fact that public libraries are service-oriented places and he loves helping people. He especially loves solving the little mysteries that people come in with- finding answers for them. It is a good reminder that librarians are there to help us and we aren’t inconveniencing them with our kids and our questions!

6. While the exact programs differ, almost every public library will have programs for kids and teenagers. Things like story times or Books and Barks (kids can read to a trained service dog), so check out your local library for what they offer!

7. Although we may think of library programs as being for younger kids, most have them for all ages, including teens. Those older kids can also be volunteers at the library and help with those programs that they love!

Harold left us with a great idea of how to get started on putting these great ideas into practice this week. He invited us to read out loud to our children and, of course, go visit your public library!

In this episode we mention:


Samuels Public Library Facebook page


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