Today is Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day nationally. How many of you knew that?
This is a fantastic idea. Kids need to read more, to know the wonder and majesty of the written word, to let their imaginations carry them to worlds created wholly on the page.
Yet with the advent of the eBook, and the slow (or maybe not-so-slow) dwindling of print books, might this laudable event be in jeopardy? The Borders bookstore chain is already gone. Barnes & Noble is cutting back on shelf space, rather drastically in some cases. Mom-and-Pop bookshops are struggling to keep their heads above water—those that haven’t already vanished.
Fewer people are buying print books at all, and those who are do so more often online, or through discounters like Wal-Mart and Target. So where are parents going to take their children in the future?
Perhaps it’s time we started a new tradition: a monthly Read with Your Child day. We could use the third Saturday of each month, for example, and dedicate two hours per month to actually sit down and read with our kids, to talk about books, about their favorite stories and characters—and why they made their choices.
I remain more convinced than ever that kids must read more, particularly in a world dominated by television and computer games. Use eReaders. Go ahead! I mean, let’s face it: eReaders are right up your kid’s alley. Just read with them. Please! It does for their brain development what TV and computer games cannot.
And then maybe—just maybe—we’ll stop hearing twenty-somethings toss out sentences like this real-life gem: “It’s like… so… I don’t know, kinda like… well, you know what I mean?”
My response: “Well, no, I don’t know what you mean. Perhaps if you spoke English.”
Her response: “OMG! Like… whatever!”
I had no idea there was a day like that, but then in our house, we take the kids over to the bookstore regularly to browse and have a coffee while we look for new books and interesting authors. We probably do this one to two days a month. I had no idea there was an actual day for it! Guess what is going on our calendar? 🙂 Like.. Totally! hehe
It’s nice, Safireblade, that you still have a physical bookstore nearby. Every month, it seems, fewer people are able to say that. 🙁
Hi, Lane. I appreciate your sharing these thoughts. I’m the founder of Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, and agree with everything you said–would even take it one step further. Use your e readers for travel or textbooks or books whose content goes out of date swiftly. But retain print and paper for stories, especially stories you read to your kids. I suspect there’s something about the turning of pages and the tactile, olfactory experience that connects to our brains in ways that a screen does not. Who knows? It may be essential in some way we don’t even understand to cognitive development. And when you buy those books, buy them in bookstores. There’s plenty of ’em left–and from our recent cross-country tour of bookstores, contrary to the gloomy and doom-y reports, new ones opening all the time.
Jenny, thanks for dropping by, and thank you for starting a great event with Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day.
I must say I have my doubts about the future of the physical bookstore. I suspect the next step, as the big chains scale back or vanish, will be for independents to once again fill that niche. However, I don’t believe they’ll survive by selling books alone. In other words, I think some hybrid of coffee shop/deli/bookstore/bookclub might be the future. Furthermore, I believe the trend toward eBooks will continue, and that physical retailers will need to work with publishers to bring some of that business into their shops. We at Evolved Publishing actually have some ideas about that.
The “Star-Trek-ification” of our society is well underway, and there’s no turning back technology. Paper books will become a niche item, with a market that will continue to shrink in the coming years. There will be survivors who find the right hybrid-retail mix, but our grandparents’ bookstores will soon be gone forever. Sad, but just the way it is.