Some Thoughts for Parents

Josie Leavitt - October 11, 2011

After the long holiday weekend and the busyness we had, I had a few pointers I wanted to share with parents shopping with their families.
– Do not shop if anyone in your party is hungry. Nothing ruins a fun time browsing at the bookstore more than a hungry toddler or spouse who really has no patience for anything other than protein.
– Do encourage your child to pursue whatever book he or she feels like reading. There’s a reason older kids might want to revisit picture books, or a child might want to stretch and read a seemingly more difficult book. Obviously, one needs to be aware of content. See the next point.
– Just because they want to read it doesn’t mean they should. No one knows your child better than you. If your toddler, who might be afraid of the dark, is picking an older-kid,  really scary Halloween book, maybe it’s okay to redirect them to a gentler book.
– Remember that little kids don’t always understand “We’re here to get so-and-so a gift.” To me, doing that with toddlers is akin to making me sit a pizza place, while I carefully help someone else choose a pie that they’re not sharing. It would be very, very hard and I might get cranky. I know it’s unrealistic to think a child should get a book or toy every time they come to the store, but don’t get mad at a little one for not quite grasping “the present for someone else” concept.
– Be kind to all the readers in your family. Not every kid is a great reader. And if there’s a disparity between reading levels/skills with your kids, you don’t need to point it out. They know, and I don’t need to.  Nothing kills me more than a parent saying, “She’s not my reader.”
– Have fun at the bookstore. Be silly when you read a picture book on the floor. I know it seems like we all can hear you, but actually we’re working, so don’t be shy about reading. Nothing makes us happier than a family laughing together.
– If you can’t get your child a book on a particular visit, ask if the store has a wish list. We keep a binder in the back and it’s full of kids’ names and their desired books. The mere act of writing down a title and storing it often goes a long way toward staving off a tantrum and letting the child feel heard.
– Stick to your guns. If you’ve set a limit and the kids are pushing you to get more, tell them no. I always respect the parents who make the hard choice of a possible tantrum rather than caving in to the child’s demands. We once had a mom carry her screaming son out of the store over her shoulder because he wasn’t listening. They came in the next day and tried again with great success. I practically applauded. And now, whenever they come in, everyone behaves well.
– Keep doing what you’ve been doing: surrounding your child with books. They’ll  be lifelong readers who appreciate books.
– Remember that books create memories; being part of a child’s life is a gift, and combining books with children is a wonderful thing.
– Lastly, thanks to all of you who continue to bring your kids to the bookstore. They delight us every day and we love to be part of your family with books.

3 thoughts on “Some Thoughts for Parents

  1. Foundation for Children's Books

    Great thoughts, Josie. With the right illustrations and the right tone, this could be a fun poster to hang in the children’s section of the store–right next to the poster inspired by yesterday’s post showing a typical birthday party goodie bag, its contents and price and the new, improved goodie bag of the birthday child’s favorite book and some stickers! 🙂

  2. Ellen Scott

    This is a great list, Josie!! I would love to link it to our website, crediting you, of course!! If I can figure out how to do it. Would you mind?


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