Kid's books as gifts: valued keepsakes or makeshift ramps for Hot Wheels?
Drew grew up during the absolute height of the Star Wars, GI Joe, Transformers, and He-Man saturated 80s. He was also there for the launch of the original Nintendo Entertainment System. Needless to say, Christmases and Birthdays were dominated by many an action figure and 8-bit video game. Ask him who gave him each of those gifts and he would be stumped 99% of the time. What were the gifts from his parents or brother? No idea. However, ask him what he got from his Aunt Sheilah and her family and he can probably name most of the gifts. What were most of those gifts? Books of course!
Here's a bit of an admission about the dirty past of bookseller Drew: he wasn't much of a reader when he was younger. Although he read at a high level, reading novels just wasn't interesting to him. He didn't enjoy most of the books that were forced upon him at school and therefore, reading was a bit of a chore. However, the books that were given to Drew by his Aunt and cousins opened his eyes to whole new world of literature (primarily in the fantasy genre). They were books that suited his interests and allowed his imagination to flourish. He finally read for fun!
As holiday shopping is in full swing at our store, we've had a few conversations with customers in recent days regarding giving books as gifts to children at Christmas. One lady was told by her young Nephew that "books aren't gifts". Another lady worried about being the "lame Aunt" who gave books as gifts. While it might be difficult/impossible to convince a child expecting a big haul of the newest toys or video games under the tree at Christmas that a book is a good gift, the reality is that books truly leave a lasting impression throughout life.
Christmas is also a time for traditions. One tradition that many families, including ours, have always done is to write your name and the date in the front of the book when giving a gift. Not only does this bring more of a personal touch to the gift and helps you remember who the gift was from, it also adds to the nostalgia in later years. There's nothing like going through all your favourite childhood books when you're older and seeing the inscriptions.
Another tradition that many families have is buying a new Christmas or Hanukkah-themed children's book each year during the holiday season. Now that our daughter is two years old and is fully aware of Christmas, we are planning to start this tradition in our family as well. We're kicking things off with The Night Before Christmas (of course), specifically our favourite version which is illustrated by Niroot Puttapipat. And because our two year old won't let us stop at one, we are also adding The Christmas Magic written by Lauren Thompson and illustrated by Jon J. Muth to our collection. We look forward to bringing out the collection of Christmas books each year (much like fellow YMC blogger EarnestGirl describes in her recent post here).
So, start the tradition of giving books to the young people in your life and you never know what you might inspire within them. While a book may not be the top item on a their Christmas list, it just might be the one they remember for the rest of their lives.
Now go share a book with your kids...
Hello and welcome to our first blog post for the Yummy Mummy Club! We are parents of a beautiful two-year old daughter and the owners of an independent children's bookstore in Victoria BC called Tall Tales Books. In this blog, we will be sharing our stories and experiences with the balancing act that is our lives as booksellers, parents, and small business owners.
One of the most common questions about our business that we get asked since opening the doors in late August 2009 is "why did you decide to open a children's bookstore?" (probably second only to the inevitable "is this store new?" no matter how long we've been open *grumble*).
As any small business owner can attest, you don't embark on this type of venture to take it easy or become wealthy. We did it because it was our dream to live and breathe children's literature. We've loved books all our lives and when our daughter was born, reading to her in her infancy was what spurred us on to make our dream a reality.
Many people have criticized us for opening our store in such a difficult economic climate and at a time where technology is competing with "good 'ol fashioned book reading". In many ways they are right. It's been an unbelievable struggle on a daily basis and is never anything but an uphill battle. But it's a battle that we think is worthwhile. Some people might call us foolish (we like to think of ourselves as brave) and to them, we would like to share this story:
A few months ago, a mother and her two children, a boy about five and a girl about three, came into the store to look around. The mother sat on the window ledge near the entrance and her two kids pulled up a couple of the child-sized stools that we have in the store. There the three of them sat huddled together as the mother read Jeremy Tankard's "Grumpy Bird". It was only a few pages in before all three of them were giggling uncontrollably at the charming story about a bird in a bad mood who wants nothing to do with his oblivious, but well-meaning friends. This giggling lasted non-stop throughout the story and even continued when it was over.
That's it, right there. That's what it's all about for us. The love of books by young and old and that undeniable magic that comes from reading together. It's what we experience every day with our daughter and what we hoped to help promote and foster in the community as well. Not a day goes by where we don't have a "grown-up" coming into the store to find a copy of a treasured book from their childhood or to relate a story about reading with their family. Show us someone who doesn't think that books make a lifelong impression, I will show you a person who wasn't read to as a child.
We hope that by sharing our experiences and stories in this blog. that we are able to entertain, inspire, and encourage you and your family as you read together and enjoy the incredible world of children's literature.