This week marked the start of a two week long book fair at my daughter's school. I was really excited to take advantage of the excuse to buy more books for her, so I hightailed it over there on opening day.
My excitement, however, was both premature and unwarranted. I found, not Newbery awards winners, not classic favorites, not authors I recognized and revered, but Justin Bieber's smiling face. Actually, several Justin Biebers stared at me from all sides of the small library now crowded with tables full of Lego sticker books, ballet slipper necklaces, and dollar sign key chains.
So....where in the name of Hemingway, WERE THE BOOKS? I mean, wasn't this a BOOK fair? I didn't realize Beiber's visage was now on par with the printed words of Margaret Wise Brown. Thanks for edifying me, Ms. Librarian who reads my daughter books about Clifford on a weekly basis. Clifford. I mean, I like dogs as much as the next mom, but where are the classics? They are just as vital for young children, and maybe more so, than for the average sullen teen. What has become of them?
And for the sake of honesty and clarity, there were books at the fair, but I call them books through gritted teeth, because really, they're just garbage between two covers. Who picked these books?
Was it anyone who plans curriculum at the school? Say it ain't so, say it ain't so. I managed to pick up two mediocre books, but begrudgingly, to be sure. I can't take the pressure of a librarian's stare. You may as well know that about me, Dear Readers.
My trip to a local chain bookstore wasn't much better. I was there two hours, sifting through gimmicky toys disguised as books, and electronic nightmares designed to get kids addicted to screen time really early (don't get me going on smart boards), but I did find two absolute gems! I mean, real, literary books. They've got it all; reputable authors, subtext, lovely writing, beautiful illustrations, wonderful plots, great messages. And it only took me two hours to find two books. IN A BOOKSTORE.
Ladies and gentlemen, here they are: The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton, and Amos and Boris by William Steig. Both of these books have heart and depth, and both use gorgeous prose to tell stories that will interest your child. A good rule of thumb in a children's book is, if you are bored reading it, your child is bored listening to it.
Although, now, so many of the books I call gimmicky are really aimed at parents and not kids, so be careful on that score too. If you are loving it, ask yourself why. Is it something to which your child can relate?
Moving forward, I'll be doing more in depth reviews of newer books, as the ones I've mentioned today have been around a while. I just thought they were worth hailing. In closing, I must plead with educators who stock book fairs: STOCK BOOKS, NOT BIEBER.