I am super excited since in the next day or two, Miss J and I will have our first joint review done for Smile by Raina Telgemeier. I had worked the closing shift in my store last night and when I spoke with J this morning she shared with me that she finished not one, but two books last night (both by Raina; I still need to read Sisters). I couldn’t be happier since it was slightly more than a month ago that I told her she was going to need to read for a half hour a day and now she is finishing multiple books in a day.
I wanted to take a moment and talk about kids and books. I am lucky in the sense that I get to spend the majority of my time in the kids/teens department at work and I get to see all the types come in. There are the kids that are super excited to be there, browsing all the titles, picking out the perfect story to go home with. There are also the ones that you can tell have been dragged there by their parents and have no desire at all to pick out a book. I love the ones that know what they want or what genre they want to read next, but I really love the ones that look like they would rather be anywhere else. If I can connect with them, find out what excites them, I can put a book in their hand that can change their whole views on reading.
Smile ended up in my library at home because of J’s experience at her school library. She saw Smile in the library, but she was told she couldn’t take it out because it was in the middle school section and she was too young. I understand from the library perspective and I am sure they are doing what they need to do but as a parent who reads everything I can find, I personally didn’t like the idea that J wasn’t allowed to read something that she showed interest in. I decided to buy it at work and then read it first to see if I thought she could read it. The review will follow, so I won’t give my thoughts here, but I will say I finished it, found nothing I thought she couldn’t handle in it, and passed it right over to her.
I see parents all the time come into my department looking a little lost. Their main goal is to find a book, any book, that they can sit their kids down and have them read it. I happily ask them questions about their child, such as what hobbies they have or what subjects interest them so hopefully I can give some suggestions that are tailored to their child. I love when the child is with them (even if they don’t want to be). I can then speak directly to the child, to see their expression when they talk about what things they love, and can put a book directly in their hands. A few times I have seen their face light up when I was able to find something that fits their profile. That makes it all worth it. I know the excitement of getting a book I am so eager to read. I cannot stress enough how important it is to foster the love of reading early.
When J told me she couldn’t take out Smile I decided to see for myself if it was something I thought she could read. I believe with books that ages are suggestions and not meant to be law. It’s important to trust your children and take the initiative to read it first and see if it is something you feel is appropriate for your child. If you aren’t sure, or don’t want to personally read it, don’t be afraid to search reviews online or talk to someone who works with kids books (like in your local bookstore) to get some opinions. If possible, always bring your child with you while picking out books for them. They need to feel like they are part of the process and find something they can be excited about.
Do you have any tips or stories about how you influenced a child to become a reader? I would love to hear them if you do! As always, happy reading!