Every Monday over the summer, I took my children to the library. We would watch the story hour and learn a new finger-song or two but after the show, the real fun begins. If it were a sporting event, it would definitely have a special name. NCAA’s March Madness begins with “Selection Sunday” and football announcers and analysts fill an entire off-season with “Draft Day” anticipation.
Our selection process has no official name, (and I haven’t decided if it is an art or a science) but it is just as thrilling. As each child dumps last week’s reads through the chute, our adventure begins.
My oldest, age 8, heads for the middle grade reading section. Her criteria? She wants to see a girl on the cover – “I have brothers, so books about boys are boring,” she informs me. She also wants to see animals on the cover. Bonus points awarded for pandas, ponies, kittens or unicorns. Before any book receives her final approval, she’ll open it to see if it is the right reading level for her. In her mind, if there is a lot of space between the lines, it is just right for her. If it is too cramped, she’ll think it is too hard.
Next, my 6 year old heads for the earth science section. Volcanoes have occupied his mind this summer. As he flips through the pages, the more hot lava in the photographs, the more likely the book will be making a journey to our house. After a few of those I usually guide him to the early chapter books. He’s at a tough reading level. He thinks picture books are for babies, but the chapter books are still too hard for him to read independently. But chapter books about anything dragon-ish are usually a win when we read them together.
My 4 year old is part tornado and for him, book selection is entirely about placement. He picks the books placed his eye level that are leaning open on the shelves. Those stacked and alphabetized nicely are not of interest. Only those with full covers showing are up for consideration. As he walks along he narrates his choices, “Pirates. Yeah, I like pirates. Bears. Yeah, I like bears. Cookies. Yeah, I really like cookies.” And they all go into his bag like treasure.
So, I’m curious, as readers, how do you select a book? Think about the last book you chose while browsing the shelves of your favorite book store, your local library or your best friend’s bookshelf.
What attracted you? Is it fanciful cover art? An intriguing title? The recommendation ‘blurb’ of a known author or celebrity? An inviting paragraph on the back cover? A librarian’s or book seller’s bright eyes when you ask, “Have you read this?”
What was the deciding factor that made you say, “I’ll take it!”