“I want to get this book!”
“I don’t think that’s a good one for you. Try this one.”
After reading author Cynthia Lord’s thoughtful blog post about the importance of positive reinforcement when a child chooses a book, I started to reflect on my experiences as a bookseller. I observed SO many instances where a child happily ran up to their parents with their book choice and the parents shot it down quickly; not because the book was expensive but because they didn’t think the book was a good choice. During the bustling holiday season at our store, I helped grandparents looking for book recommendations for their grandchildren (“Where are your girl books?”). These experiences showed me just how much influence adults have on what children read, especially at a bookstore, where a purchase will be made.
Adults bring preconceived notions, biases, wishes and expectations for what they believe the child they’re shopping for, should be reading. Countless times I heard “Meh…I don’t think he/she’d like that.” Of course they knew the child better than I did but…I just needed a bit of their trust. Occasionally I had the pleasure of actually helping a child find a good book and though it was often really tough, it was the best! I also recognize that as a bookseller, I brought to every recommendation, my idea of what a “good book” is; this is why I read broadly, diversely and kept an open mind. Booksellers have some power in this way…what a big responsibility! Phew >_<
So parents, please trust your kids a bit and if they pick up a book that may be a little above their reading level, talk about it and if you still see a twinkle in their eye, encourage that reading spirit! 🙂