I was in a bookstore recently and I overheard a couple of conversations that have stuck with me. One was between a patron and one of the store managers. The customer was wondering about a certain book and how closely it followed the movie. He told the employee, "I want to make sure this book is exactly like the movie." The employee told him that she wasn't sure how closely the book followed the movie because, "the book was written first, and I haven't seen the movie, I've only read the book." I was walking towards the cafe, so I didn't stick around to learn whether the customer bought the book.
I am not so foolish as to think that either of my girls wouldn't ever use a bookstore to look for a book that is "exactly like the movie" or sit at the cafe with one of their friends and discuss how the other is going to respond to a boy. We were in the bookstore yesterday and Hadley and Harper picked out a book for themselves - Hadley chose a Handy Manny book, and Harper chose a Sesame Street book - inspired by TV. And when I was younger, I was not a reader. I liked listening to stories, and I liked telling and writing stories, but I didn't like reading them.
It wasn't until I had a summer job shelving books in a library that I began to think I might be interested in reading them. It started out as a way to pass the time. I'd hide behind one of the shelves in the back of the library and read the back cover of a book I was supposed to shelve. If it looked interesting, I'd start reading it and end up taking it home after my shift was over. As ashamed as I am to admit this, one of the first books I took home that summer was The Princess Bride. I began reading instead of shelving it because I liked the movie so much. I also liked the cover of the book. It looked just like the copy the Grandfather brought to Fred Savage in the movie. While I was reading it I felt smart because it looked like a classic. There were no pictures on the front, just weathered cloth with unassuming gold letters that spelled out the title.
Dear Mr. Henshaw was next. I took that one home because it wasn't technically a story - it was a bunch of letters. I loved reading books that were a series of letters. I wonder if Sharon Creech's Absolutely Normal Chaos was around when I was shelving books. I would've loved that one.
But I had other interests, and while reading wasn't at the top of my to-do lists, it was slowly making its way into my life. The conversations I listened in on in the bookstore bothered me, but I think I also need to be prepared for when my girls may be more interested in other things besides reading. Just in case that happens, I'll document it here so they know that for awhile, they liked to read stories.
So Hadley can remember that in the beginning of the summer of 2010, she was only interested in reading "flappy books" (the books that aren't hardcover). So Harper knows that it was impossible to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar or Pat the Bunny because she would stick her fingers where there were holes in the pages and scream in delight for someone to grab them. So the girls know that after nap time, one of the first things they did was read books together.
The blessings of ends and beginnings
58 minutes ago