Every day, kids come to the bookstore to shop for themselves with their own money. I’ve spoken about how the kids learn about money with us. But they learn something else with us: how to be generous. I see it every day when siblings help each other out with book suggestions or funds.
It’s delightful to see older kids really listening to their younger cohorts. I’ve overheard conversations that rival any great bookseller handselling a beloved title. The enthusiasm is unbridled and there is also the benefit of really knowing them, so they can steer them away from books they don’t think they’ll like. Two brothers came in the store a few days ago. Cole wanted to read The Westing Game, but he’s only 6 and not a strong reader. His brother, Davis, 10, knew this would be a challenging read for him, and he also knew Cole would love it, but not yet. Davis deftly steered him away from the harder book to a more appropriate Encyclopedia Brown title. Cole looked mad at being handed what he thought of as “a baby book.”
I started shelving with earnest in the section next to them to better hear this conversation, looking to glean tips. Davis said, “When I was your age I loved these! ‘Cuz they’re fun and you learn stuff.” He scanned the selection and handed Cole, with a flourish, Encyclopedia Brown, Super Sleuth and then kind of punched him in the arm. While that is not a technique to emulate, it worked for Cole who was practically beaming that his older brother took the time to pick out a book for him. Then, just when I thought it couldn’t get any nicer, Davis said, “We can talk about it when you’re done.” I’m not sure if these boys are always this kind to each other, or if they were just having a good day, but there were several choked-up adults in the store after that exchange.
When siblings aren’t helping with book choices, they are often sharing their money. Yesterday, three sisters, ages 11, 8 and 5, came in; the two older ones had gift cards, the youngest didn’t. Everyone was getting rung up and the littlest one was doing a great job of holding it together until she realized she couldn’t get the fairy book she had been clutching. She did not have any money. The older sister had $5.18 left on her gift card and before her mother could even suggest that she use that to help her little sister get a book, she was buying Chloe the Topaz Fairy for her. Maria, the smallest one, then gave Addie a sticker from the book.
And then, I was dying of cuteness, again.