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Toni Howe & Cate Oakley: “They know if you’re with Grandma, you're gonna go to the library.”

Toni Howe and Cate Oakley spoke with the Missouri On Mic team at the Poplar Bluff Library in July.

Cate is 4-years old, and her Grandma Toni is a school librarian. They spoke about how they visit libraries together and their shared love of books.

Missouri on Mic is an oral history and journalism project documenting stories from around the state in its 200th year.

Toni Howe: So, my name is Toni Howe, and I am almost 59. What's your name?

Cate Oakley: Cate.

Toni: Cate. And how old are you? Okay.

Cate: Four.

Toni: Four. All right. Getting big, aren't you?

Cate: Yes.

Toni: what is this place? We came to.

Cate: Uhhh…

 Toni: Remember? What's it called?

Whispers. A library?

Cate: A library.

Toni: Yes. We like to go to libraries, don't we?

Cate: Yes.

Toni: Yes, we got some books.

Cate: We got some books.

Toni: And some movies.

Cate: And some movies. I got lots of movies. Uh. Scientist and Rainbow Rangers and [indecipherable noise].

I’m gonna go to Grandma and Pa’s lake house.

Toni: Yes, she’s staying with us for a few days.

Cate: Yes.

"Through books – they can grow, and they can learn and get new opportunities and stuff, you know, that the world is not going to stay the same it is now."
Toni Howe

Toni: Well, I'm a librarian in the first place. I'm a school librarian. So, anytime we go someplace, we always check out the library. You go to the library where you live, don’t you?

Cate: Yes!

Toni: Yeah, you like going there. What’s some of the books Mommy's been reading to you?

Cate: Um, I don’t know.

Toni: Oh, there was one about the bodies. What was that call?

Cate: Bodies…

Toni: Bodies are what?

Cate: Bodies are cool!

Toni: Bodies are cool.

Well, it's just a natural part of our life, because when I go to Little Rock or something, a lot of times we will go and visit the library there, and this is – she's my third granddaughter. I have two other ones. One’s in Little Rock and the other one is in St. Louis, and we do the same thing there.

You know, I was just up there two weeks ago, and we went to the library in St. Peter's – where she lives and stuff.

So, it's just they know, if you’re with Grandma, you're gonna go to the library. Since we just moved here, this is only our second visit to this library and stuff, but sometimes they go to my library in Sikeston, and we check it out there.

Cate: Laughter

Toni: It allows them to live – see another person's point of view and a way of life and maybe see that what they have now is not how it always has to be.

Because some, you know, I work with a lot of underprivileged kids and, you know, some in poor homes, and sometimes they think nothing's ever going to change.

But you know, they can see through books – they can grow, and they can learn and get new opportunities and stuff, you know, that the world is not going to stay the same it is now.

It’s always evolving and turning in different way, and it's just a great way to, you know, learn new vocabulary, and just experience a different way of life.

Rebecca Smith is a reporter and producer for the KBIA Health & Wealth desk. She was born and raised in Rolla, Missouri, and graduated with degrees in Journalism and Chemistry from Truman State University in May 2014. Rebecca comes to KBIA from St. Louis Public Radio, where she worked as the news intern and covered religion, neighborhood growth and the continued unrest in Ferguson, MO.
Caoilinn left KBIA in December of 2022.
Caoilinn Goss is the Audio Convergence Editor at KBIA. She trains and oversees student reporters, editors and anchors to produce daily afternoon newscasts. She's also a Missouri Journalism School alum.