We’re having a very busy summer at the store this year. Huzzah to that! Vacationing families browsing in the bookstore are always an instructive pleasure. There are three main reasons for vacationing families to spend time together in the store. Some families are directed by parents who want their children to have books. The children are happy to be here but the choice to come was made by their parents. Other families are here because they have an established internal culture of reading. They all read, always share books among themselves, and consider the merits and demerits of various previously consumed titles to be an important and ongoing conversation topic. Coming to the store was a no-brainer.
This year I have noticed a third reason having more prevalence than it has in previous summers. One young family member is a huge reader, and they have stopped in to sate that noble appetite. The rest of the family either read on devices or are disassociated from reading. One mother told me, with the dubious expectation that I would sympathize, that she herself reads on a Kindle, and had been trying to get her daughter to follow suit, but was having no success. Her book-loving daughter hugged the pile in her arms, and said, “Mom, I love real books, they have to be real. You should get one for yourself.” And she did!
Almost all parents want their children to like books, of course, even if they don’t read them much themselves, or wish the offspring read them on electronic delivery and access mechanisms. And yet, as with almost everything to do with encouraging the dynamic intellectual and social growth of children, it is what parents do, much more than what they say or describe having done in the past, that influences their kids. There will always be individual children who are independently drawn to that unmatched edifice of engagement, the physical book. Huzzah to them. And yet a double huzzah goes to those families in which the parents actively read and engage with the books favored by their children. Not only do they achieve what almost all parents wish for, children who love books, but they have established a pearl beyond price. Families that read together are together in the best and strongest of ways.