Books, Books, Books and More Books...x 10
For a while, I’ve been paying attention to people’s bookshelves. It's really been a form of voyueristic portraiture; you know, you can actually learn a lot about people by their books, even just by their book covers. Sounds stupid but it's not. Do you know a damn thing about wine? No, but I bet a good label gets you every time. It does me. Aesthetics matter, they just do. Trust me so we don't have to get all into some weird psycho-babble crap.
Anyway, so now I’m officially starting a little side project with some some other select parents to find out what's on their children's book shelves and why. Depending on the age of your child, it's typically been you, the parent, who has chosen their literature. It certainly says something about you, as a person and as a parent, but here's the fun part...what does it say about your child, or maybe more accurately said, how might it help to define your child in the long run? Because it will...it most certainly will.
Meg Ryan's character in the film, You've Got Mail, Kathleen Kelly, captured the notion perfectly when she spoke about the legacy that her mother left behind by being a bookseller. She said, "it wasn't that she was selling books, it was that she was helping people become whoever they were going to turn out to be. When you read a book as a child it becomes part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your life does." And it's true. It certainly was for me.
So take a look at your kids books. What are they reading? What are you pushing into their psyches? What do they love, and what is it that they'd rather use to prop the door open with? Does the artwork matter? Does the message matter? Is it just entertainment? What does their bookshelf (or book box if you're us at the moment) look like? We're talking about painting a portrait of you and your children in terms of literature. Like a literary bar code, or what amounts to be the equivalent of a literary stamp on your child's intellectual DNA, but with the colorful spines of his or her books (like the Jane Mount painting above).
It's important stuff, it really is.
Zo's hooked on Russell the Sheep, it's her bedtime ritual and Mom can recite it by heart now. She loves the Sandra Boynton books, like Hippos Go Beserk, and But Not The Hippopotamus, and she loves her Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? book that the Bergquists sent her. She's also got these giant Sesame Street board books that she digs, and she just got Oliver Jeffers, Lost and Found for her first birthday. Her literary interests fall just short of what's chewable at the moment, but her closet is stacked high with future investments.
Despite her penchant for eating books (so we're certain she'll love the brilliance of Oliver Jeffers The Incredible Book Eating Boy that's stashed away until the pages won't serve as cud)she a fairly voracious reader. She just flips page after page, and would do so with just about anything that actually has pages...magazines, brochures, even the cardboard labels attached to new clothes...she's a freak. We're doing our best to cultivate a love of reading and so the closet collection is increasing at an alarming rate. We really should take a complete inventory and then get this kid some book shelves.
That's a good idea. Keep an eye out for a thorough inventory from the Library of Zed, and then as soon as we're done with this cumbersome chore called work we'll post Zo's literary bar code here for the entire universe, or all fifteen of you, to see. Have a nice day...mahalo.