by Monica Shaughnessy
I buy very few things for my child with abandon. To look at her room, you’d call me a liar. It’s bulging with toys, stuffed animals, electronic gadgets, stuffed animals, craft supplies, dolls…and did I mention stuffed animals? But she acquired many of these things with her own allowance, by “earning them” through some task or another, or by receiving them on her birthday. Santa, too, is a generous guy and gives out his share. So when she asks me to buy her something out of the blue, my reply is usually “No, you have enough stuff.”
Except when it comes to books.
By the time she was old enough to read, I decided that one of my personal parental policies would be to NEVER SAY NO TO BOOKS. Now, I’m not talking about those funny quiz booklets or feather-strewn diaries. I’m talking honest to goodness sit down and read books. Basically, if we’re in a store, and she gets excited about the newest novel her classmates have been reading…cha-ching! The cash register rings.
Now, I can’t afford to do a lot of “cha-chinging” at my local Barnes and Noble. Sure, it happens occasionally. But I also get her a lot of books at Costco (they’re half price, people, half!), our local used book store (a novel for fifty cents? yes!), and the library. And let’s not forget about Scholastic Book Club during the school year. I don’t buy the cookie dough or the wrapping paper or the crappy tote bags. But give me one of those Scholastic leaflets, and I’m checking boxes left and right.
We’re working on ebooks. She certainly has enough gadgets to read electronically, but still prefers the “real thing.” I find this laughable since every other activity seems to be done virtually. Play dates? Face time. QQ? TXT. TV? Streaming. Reading? Books…made of paper…whaaat? And I don’t believe she’s alone in this desire. Take one look at the chart below and you’ll see what I’m talking about. (graph courtesy of the Author Earning’s Report)
I have a feeling, though, that when she gets a little older, she’ll see the benefits of reading on a gadget. To be fair, paper books haven’t disappeared from my shelves altogether. But I buy a lot more electronically than I ever did before, and she sees me make those decisions. Anyway, ebooks aside, you get what you reward, folks. And for my time, effort, and money, I’ve got a life-long reader on my hands.
“No, you have enough books.” You will NEVER hear this in my house.
How about you, parents? Do you limit the number of books you give to your kids? Or are you nutty like me and bend over backwards to give your kids more reading material? I’d love to start a discussion!