Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Book Fairs & Reading Young

It's fall and if you're anything like me this weather makes you nostalgic for book fairs. I work at a small college with a big education program - meaning they host a book fair every year for their students and professors to stock up on children's books. When I was in elementary school, Book Fair week was the highlight of the school year. I can recall begging my parents for money the first day those shiny silver cases popped up in the school lobby. 

As a small child books thrilled me to no end - I have always loved reading - and yet I cannot tell you why. I just can't recall a time when I would have preferred another activity. Since getting married a few months ago and recently becoming an aunt I've begun to wonder what it is that made me like reading so much. My younger brothers certainly don't have a passion for it, and yet we came from the same two parents. Perhaps it's because I am female, making me less inclined to play video games, but I know plenty of women who like neither activity. And I also know men who like to read, just not my brothers. 

I wish I knew, because I want to impart a love of reading on my future children. In the past I never quite realized the magnitude of reading and writing as skills, perhaps because I've always loved both. I read as often as I brush my teeth (twice a day, sometimes three). I also struggle to figure out why people don't like to read. I can certainly see why you'd dislike a particular genre, but there are so many options! Traditional fiction, science fiction, fantasy, history, biography, children's, mystery, horror, romance . . . everyone should be able to find something they love.

Does anyone out there have some advice or perspective on young readers? How do you instill a love of reading when our culture is so full of other distractions and activities, many of which are not "exciting" to children? Perhaps I should work on a list of favorite children's books, maybe then I can squirrel it away for the future. 

p.s. Happy Thanksgiving!


  1. Ohmygosh BOOK FAIRS. I remember poring over the Scholastic catalog the week before the book fair came, circling books, adding costs, trying not to go overboard, but wanting to read all of them. . . .And then finishing all the books I bought within a week or two of purchase.

  2. I am a girl, and I have a very near-equal love for reading and gaming ;) I also worked full-time in a bookstore for four and a half years, and am now there seasonally. So I know a thing or two ;) One staggering problem is that as boys grow into teens, there is little to no substantive material for them. If you look at the Teen section in any Barnes & Noble, it's full of Teen Fiction a la Sarah Dessen, Gossip Girl, and Pretty Little Liars, and Teen Romance a la Twilight, The Infernal Devices, and Hush Hush. What little there is by way of Action/Adventure (The Hunger Games) tends to have either a female lead or a romance as a key plot point, neither of which are BAD, per se, just not necessarily what the average thirteen year old boy is looking to read. So lots of boys end up being really enthusiastic about reading when they're young (think: elementary school) but lose that enthusiasm as they grow out of Young Readers, because they don't feel ready for Adult Fiction (either thematically or linguistically) and the publishing world sort of...disavows them at this stage. They figure they can't make money off of that demographic, which is why so much is pumped into things like Twilight.

    Have I started to ramble? I've started to ramble. Anyroad, I LOVE talking books. My best suggestion would be read to them, as often as you can. Start reading novels to them before they can read full chapterbooks themselves. Get them interested in the complexity and beauty of the written word, and above all, truly, find a good bookstore near you with knowledgeable children's staff. {Or, you know...when the time comes...use me. PLEASE use me.}

    Hope this kinda helps?

  3. You know, until you posted this, I wouldn't have thought about the lack of options for adolescent boys. But you're so right! My little brother loved to read when he was little (grade school), but once he hit his teens, he slowly lost interest. He picked up the Aragon series at some point, but other than that there aren't many others I can recall him reading.

    Perhaps I should write a book! Ha! Now there's a wild idea.