One day at work last week, one of the managers popped her head into the break room while I was on (who would have guessed it?) break and asked if I could do my break later because there was a dad in the store who was more than a little frantic. His wife has the kids during the school year and he has them during the summer, and he found out that his daughter hadn’t read a single book during the year outside of what she’d been explicitly assigned by her teachers- and even those had gone mostly unread. He was appalled and determined to make up for that lack over the summer.
Daughter was less than thrilled.
It took a little while and more than a few questions to both Daughter and Father, but we finally determined that Daughter is ten years old (ten and a half!), does not like fantasy, doesn’t like anything girly, doesn’t like anything long. The list of what she doesn’t like could go on forever. When I asked her what she does like, she just stared at me blankly.
So, we went to the appropriate section, started at the A’s, and I told her about every book that I knew anything about. What the story was, what I’d heard about it, what my thoughts were on it if I’d read it. I skipped over any that I was pretty sure she’d dismiss out of hand- though it just about killed me not to talk about Dragon Slippers– and whenever she seemed even remotely interested, we pulled the book and set it in a stack on the floor. By the time we got through 47 shelves of books, she had about twenty in the stack.
It’s better than it sounds, actually- many of those were first in a series.
During this tour, Father was up at the front of the store with Little Brother, mostly because he was afraid to jinx her. Little Brother loves to read, to the exclusion of all else, in fact- Father’s mission for him this summer is to get him involved in some team type stuff. He’s hoping for sports; I think he’d settle for mathlete at this point.
Once we got from A to Z, Daughter and I sat on the floor back in the kids’ department and went through each of the books one by one. We talked about them more, I helped her read through the first few pages of each- going into sixth grade, she’s only reading around a second or third grade level- and I did my best to find what was going to be a good fit for her so far as I knew. When Father finally couldn’t take the tension anymore, he came back to check on us. We’d put five books aside to be reshelved, but that still left a stack of fifteen that she was actually interested in.
I thought Father was going to cry for joy.
I figured he’d want it whittled down a little further. Fifteen books aren’t exactly easy on the pocketbook. He surprised me, though; he scooped up every single one of those books and took them up to the register.
I thought if Daughter read even three of those books, Father would consider it a worthwhile investment. (And what Daughter didn’t read, Little Brother would devour)
Much to my surprise, I just saw Father again.
With another stack of books.
And a grin that looked about ready to split his face in two.
Turns out, Daughter was almost halfway through the stack of books and loving almost all of them. He wanted to reward her so she asked her what she wanted as a treat.
She said the next books in the series.
I was SO tempted to run a victory lap around the store! Except we were, you know, still open and full of customers and I hate running.
But still! She was reading! And loving it!
There are days when I get so frustrated because things in other arenas aren’t going so well, because I don’t feel any closer to getting my own book on the shelf. There are days when I feel like I am waging war against the world and the world is kicking my ass.
And then there are the days when a little girl who hates reading comes back into the store because she loved a book and wants more.
Days like that?
Until next time~