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SALT LAKE CITY — Happily, I can remember many childhood visits to bookstores, these “places of wonder,” as author Richard Russo writes in the book, “My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read and Shop.”
In my mind, the feelings are fresh of stepping into our local store, the shelves spread out in fans of possibility, the rich smell of paper and ink, the whispers of secrets yet to be told. And my parents were there to guide me in discovery.
Few things have stuck with me like the thrill of choosing a book from so many, knowing there was one just right for me, and bringing it home to read and to own — all mine. Most of those books still sit on my shelf, the stories special treasures of my youth.
Bookstores hold a place in the hearts and times of our community. They are places to discover an author, a story, a life.
–Jenny Milchman, founder of Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day
There is power in print.
Russo also wrote, “Like libraries, (bookstores are) the physical manifestation of the world’s longest, most thrilling conversation.” In a digital world, most conversations have been moved to the Internet. For our children, especially, life is, and will be, lived online. But like most things, books are better when experienced in person.
Jenny Milchman, founder of Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, said, “Bookstores hold a place in the hearts and times of our community. They are places to discover an author, a story, a life. Nothing affords the conversation and interaction among books and book lovers that a bookstore does.”
Milchman continued, “In the future, whether you download your story or pluck a volume off a shelf, a bookstore will be able to accommodate. But in order for bookstores to flourish and thrive, we must expose future generations to the unique pleasures they offer.”
In turn, if children are to love books and become lifelong readers, family visits to the bookstore (and library) are essential.
My 6-year-old daughter, when asked why she likes to go to the bookstore, said, “I like to read. I like to look at all the books. It’s cool.” While I asked her this question, my 4-year-old son immediately chimed in and asked if we could go to the bookstore “right now.”
As a parent, one of the joys I glean from my children is watching them adore and explore books. Their eyes curiously surveying illustrations, their tiny laughs at a funny character, their little hands holding up a book with an enthusiastic, “Read this, Mommy.”
I take my children to the bookstore and the library as often as possible. I take them to author events so they make the important connection of where books come from and build exciting book memories. And I always buy them print books, something they can hold in their hands, set on their shelves, and, someday, show their own children with a smile and an "I remember …."
There is power in print and even more power in sharing it.
This year, Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day is Saturday, Dec. 1. This event has the support of more than 400 bookstores nationwide. Take the child in your life to your local bookstore and open a door to a lifetime of reading and wonder.
Will you be participating? Which bookstore is your family’s favorite? Join the conversation about sharing the love of bookstores on my Facebook page.
*About the Author: Teri Harman
*Teri Harman, author and book enthusiast, writes a biweekly column for ksl.com and also contributes book-related segments to Studio 5. Her debut novel, "Blood Moon," comes out June 22, 2013. Find her online at teriharman.com**