She could barely rest her chin on top of the counter, yet her eyes were watching everything that was happening.
The stillness of the room was interrupted by the gentle jumps of joy from my daughter as the woman behind the counter handed her something so very important; a copy of Peter Rabbit. The very first book she purchased with her own money; a book that inspired my daughters love of reading.
My own love affair with books began when I was a child. I can still remember buying my very first copy of Ramona The Brave. There was something special about reading a book that I had purchased with my own money.
Even now as an adult, I still get excited when I buy a book. I love how they smell when you open them up for the first time and how they feel in my hands. I love how heavy the bag is when I leave the store with my treasures and I love seeing my children hold these precious books in their hands.
There isn’t a room in my house that doesn’t have a stack of books piled high in a corner. I often find them scattered on night stands, shoved in drawers, and stacked in bookcases. Maybe that is why bookstores have become one of my children’s favorite places to go; it reminds them of home.
Family trips to our favorite bookstore are usually prompted by my daughter. We don’t visit often, but when we do, it is something special for her. She sees this as far more than just a store that sells books. She sees it as an opportunity to get lost in the stories that live there.
On one of our more recent visits to the store my son calls “the one with the lady that knows everything,” I finally understood the connection my kids feel when they cross the threshold into this magical place. While they quickly moved to their favorite spots, I found a corner where I could take it all in; breathe in the magic that takes place for so many people in a bookstore.
The corners are tight and every square inch is in use. Posters of my kids favorite stories hang in just the right places and there is a sense of community woven into every part of this quaint store.
People seem to always move slowly when they are surrounded by books. I find that I am drawn in by the images on the covers and the titles that invite curiosity. It doesn’t take long for me to realize, there is no getting in and out of here quickly; I love that about this place.
While searching for a copy of Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck, I noticed a woman knelt down in front of my daughter. She is listening intently as my daughter tries to describe a book she is looking for; she can only remember what the cover looks like and the name of one of the characters. Then the magic happens that my daughter has so often described to me; this woman knows exactly which book she is talking about.
It is in that very moment that I realized something that many of us forget; nothing can replace the knowledge of a bookseller. They have purchased the books, shelved them, read them, and recommended them. They know the covers, the characters, and the right fit for each person that walks in their store. My daughter once said to me, “mom, why do you buy books online when you have no idea if you will like them or not. You can’t talk to your computer like you can talk to a person.” It took the simple words of an eight-year-old to remind me that nothing can replace the wisdom and depth of knowledge that a bookseller has.
Recently, I discovered a project that one mom has taken on in attempt to educate families about the importance of reading and the value of children visiting bookstores. Take Your Child To A Bookstore Day grew from Jenny Milchman’s vision to expose all kids to the love of books and story time that she had seen her own children discover such pleasure and joy in when they visited bookstores. “My hope, is that by drawing awareness to the pleasures of time spent in a bookstore at a young age, kids who take part will grow up to value and support bookstores in the communities of the future.”
The idea, which began in 2012 with about 80 bookstores, quickly took off and now new stores, over 700 of them, are being added while thousands of kids across the country are being exposed to this incredible opportunity hatched by one amazing mom. The heart and passion of Jenny Milchman can be summed up in one simple statement she made: “Bookstores hold a place in the hearts and times of our community. They are places to discover an author, a story, a life. Nothing affords the conversation and interaction among books and book lovers that a bookstore does.”
This year, Take Your Child To A Bookstore Day is on December 3rd, 2016
Bookstores are places where people can come together and share their ideas, passions, and of course their love of books; something that is missing for so many of us today. The human connection can be seen in every part of a bookstore; there is so much more that happens beyond buying a book.
As my son and daughter hugged their most valuable new treasures that day, I was so thankful that the line to buy their books was a bit long; I was in no hurry. Today, life was about slowing down and reveling in the magic of a small bookstore.