Take a child about to cry over being told that he can’t get a book — tears are brewing, a face is getting set in a pout, perhaps a foot is close to hitting the floor with force. How can you save this moment from turning into a scene? Well, I want to share a tip that we use at the Flying Pig to help children feel heard and to help stave off these unpleasant temper tantrums. It’s called a Wish List. Whenever a child, or even an adult, comes in and can’t get all the books that they want, we encourage them to write it down for us to file.
There is something gratifying to know that what you want has been written down somewhere, that your wish has been recorded. Just yesterday a girl all of about seven asked to see her wish list. I got the binder out and much to her mother’s surprise, I produced her wish list from last Christmas. The only book on the list was the Simpsons’ Tree House of Horror. The mom started laughing and said, "Did you make that list with Daddy?" The girl didn’t want the book any more, but was thrilled that we still had the list on file.
The Wish List book serves as a reminder for relatives of books that would make great gifts. We date all the entries in the wish lists, so it’s a real record of how a child has grown as a reader and how tastes have changed, or stayed true. There is something tangible about writing things down that children understand. Their wishes have not been forgotten and they can regroup and leave the store feeling better.
This is a simple thing to do to help customers and it’s really fun to watch kids delight in putting things on their list. The best part is when they come in months later and take their list and go around the store and make piles. And add more books to their list for the next time.