There is something utterly charming about little kids recognizing the books they have at home when they come to the bookstore. Little ones come in every day and almost all under the age of five feel the need to announce when they see a book they know from home. There is comfort in the familiar. The characters in the books have become friends, the artwork can be anticipated and there are no surprises.
But I think it’s more than that. Seeing books they have at home when they come to the store is welcoming. There is a subtle message to the kids that they will find books they enjoy here. because they’ve already know some of the books. When kids come to the bookstore for the first time, there are often two reactions. The first is one of wonder that there are so many books to get to know. The other is one of slight overwhelm that there are so many unfamiliar books. Seeing books from home is calming. Books, sometimes just the sight of them, have the power to soothe. This is what these little ones have already figured out.
I know many parents struggle with reading the same books over and over again. It is tedious and there are so many books to choose from and I totally understand the urge to want to read something new. The trip to the bookstore is sometimes brought about because, as many customers have said, “I cannot read that book one more time!” There is a balance between pleasing a child at nighttime (and getting them to sleep) and not tearing your hair out. So, parents come in seeing a new read aloud only to be stymied by a child who sees his favorite book and wants to have it read out loud at the bookstore. Admittedly, this is counter-productive. So there is a balance between what the child will tolerate and what the parent can also tolerate.
One way bookstore staffers help parents with this conundrum is to figure out what about a particular book is really resonating with the child and find a book that is similar enough to be comforting and one the child wants to read. This is the challenge of bookselling that I particularly enjoy. I love having families come back to the store telling that they have a new favorite bedtime book. And the best part of bookselling is when a child leaves the store hugging a new book.