The Stories Begun











{February 12, 2011}   Professional Book Finder. At your service.

I do so wish this was a job.  I’d charge exorbitant amounts of money to bookstores to be on hand for those customers who wander in with no clue what they want.  Or just a vague idea.  And then, of course, I’d barely charge anything to parents who are trying to find the right book to engage their child in reading.

Right now, I do this for fun/out of a sense of responsibility.  In the last five years, I can remember two times that I have gone into my hometown bookstore without running into a parent/grandparent searching through the sea of books that is the children’s section with wide-eyed looks of confusion on their faces.  Once in a long while, this happens in other sections, but the children’s section is the worst.

I find that most parents/grandparents know their children and the type of books they read, but have long since given up on trying to keep up with them.  I can’t blame them.  Tracking what I read is a talent that still escapes me sometimes.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve picked up a book that has looked interesting to me, taken it home, and realized I’ve read it before.  Not a problem, except that it means I’m losing my mind!

I also find that most bookstore employees take about the same attitude towards reading children’s lit as Amis recently did towards writing it.  It is, in a phrase, beneath them.  Bookstores, unless they specialize in the area, seem woefully unprepared to deal with children (or their ever-loving parents to supply them).  Perhaps this is why that section is always tucked in the back or on the second floor.  The stores are hoping the trip back to the information booth alone is enough of a deterrent to those seeking help.

And yet, here is a literary community that is growing by leaps and bounds.  In recent years there’s been a beautiful renaissance that is, in many ways, still ongoing.  It’s where I want to be, eventually.  The caliber of literature in the children and young adult literatures is, in a word, amazing.  And, if that’s not enough of a reason to begin reading “younger audience” literature, this is where many dreams are born.  I know a great deal of my goals were directly related to the books I read.

So, yes, I feel responsible for those poor, lost people.  I am well-familiar with the genre, I have experience to be shared, and until my local bookstore hires someone who is adept, I will continue finding books for these customers.  They’re trying to spread and encourage love of reading.  It’d be a crime not to help.

And, maybe in a few years, some of these kids–most of whom I’ve never met–will be able to do the same thing.  Maybe some of them will take to writing.  I would hope.  This next generation, raised on books that are so much better than the ones offered to mine, is our literary future.  I cannot wait to see what they do with it.

Anxiously anticipating,

~RJLouise

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