Maurice Grenier’s innocent act of literary mischief 15 years ago as a young student at Rivera Elementary sparked a lifelong love of reading.
The now 24-year-old Coronado High graduate loved Richard Barber’s “A Companion To World Mythology” so much that he never got around to returning it to the Rivera Library. That is until this week, when he decided it was time to turn in that way-overdue book.
Rivera librarian Rachel Coronado — who did not yet work at the school when the book was taken — said she was happy to receive the replacement book, but even happier to know that the small act of biblio-shenanigans led a young man to develop a true love of reading.
“I’m thrilled that something the school provided helped him discover his gift and purpose in life,” she said. “The amazing fact is that it was not a person, but a book, that impacted this young man. That reassures me greatly as an educator.”
Grenier told Coronado that he forever felt guilty about taking the book, which remains one of his favorites.
“My third-grade teacher Mrs. Fleming would take us to the library every so often and one day I came across” the book, he said. “Reading that book gave me a sense that there was more to the world that we are usually told. More mystery, adventure … a deeper meaning to be found.”
The book is a compilation of stories from ancient times filled with heroes, villains, monsters, giants, gods and goddesses that form new worlds and cultures. In 2003, it was part of the library’s reference collection, and therefore not allowed to be checked out by students.
Coronado said that while she discourages students from taking books from the library without first checking them out, she’s happy that the book helped Grenier develop a love for literacy and reading.
Grenier’s book obsession is evident by the growing collection of tomes he has at his home.
“’A Companion To World Mythology’ has now become part of a small personal library which continues to grow,” he said. “I want to thank all the amazing and hard-working teachers and staff – past and present – that make Carlos Rivera Elementary one of the best and most special schools in El Paso.”
Grenier did not face any fees, as Coronado said his actions lead to the library’s intended purpose: a lifelong love of literacy.