Erika Leigh Noble’s appetite for literature grew from reading books to her grandmother

Mthere love story can be different from most others. From a very young age, I have always had a love for books; I loved the way they felt, the way some of them smelled. Being raised by my grandmother, a 5 foot tall woman with only a sophomore education, she instilled in me that everything around you is a learning opportunity if you let it, and every book is vacation if you wish. to travel.

Her name was Zelma Mitchell Brewer (pictured above). She was from Mobile, Alabama. Eldest of her parents, she had to stop her studies in CE1 to help her mother, Francis Mitchell, with her younger brothers and sisters. When my grandmother was of age, she started cleaning houses in Mobile, until she saved up enough money to move with her two young children to Texas in the late 1940s.

Installing her family in Nacogdoches, she will meet the late great LV Brewer. Together they shared five children, raising seven in total. My grandmother used to use me to read books to her, and I hated it back then. I wanted to go out and play with my cousins, or just sit around and do nothing like a normal kid. I remember many days of reading to my grandmother and then looking up words in dictionaries and encyclopedias to help her figure out what the word meant or how to use it in a sentence.

It got to a point where she was asking, “Where are we going today?” I would pick up a book and say, “Looks like we’re going to Kansas.” It was The Wizard of Oz. I read to her and she rocked in her chair, often with her eyes closed. I asked her if she was sleeping; she said, “No, just imagine what Dorothy’s house looked like.” I have never been there before.

I smiled and continued to read.

I had no idea she was preparing me for a relationship with books that I would need throughout my life. My grandmother was not a good reader and I taught her the words she knew! What a feeling to know that you taught your grandmother to read.

I carry the relationship we have shared with me to this day. My family would love to say they owe me for teaching them to read, but I mean I owe my grandmother for giving me something I can give back to the world.

During the pandemic, I had the urgency to put some legs in my EL Station vision. Last July, I launched its first small free library, developing partnerships with the City of Dallas Recreation Department, The Dallas Public LibraryRick Smith with The Real Estate Book and Todd Boi with The little free library.

In a short time, we put a book in the hands of more than 1,000 people in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolis. It’s not your average love story, but it’s one that has broken through many homes, being the escape many lives needed during a time of despair.

— narrated by Erika Leigh Noble

About Marcia G. Hussain

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