A conversation at the book fair #sol18

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I visited the Green Valley Book Fair today.  If you’re ever in the Shenandoah Valley and you love books, then you need to visit this amazing place just south of Harrisonburg.  I don’t think that I paid more than $5.99 for a book today, and many of the books I purchased were hard-backed versions of well-known titles (Can An Aardvark Bark? and Life were just two of my purchases).  Seriously, this place is amazing.

I had a purchase order today and eagerly roamed each aisle.   However, as I filled the first of three baskets, I overheard a conversation that made me stop and think.  The conversation was between a woman and (I’m assuming) her son.  We were standing at the back wall, where I was checking out the Roscoe Riley series to see which books I didn’t have (my fourth grade boys love Roscoe’s antics).  Normally, this long line of shelves is a place where I spend a lot of time because there are typically a wide variety of early chapter books.  The mother and son were browsing the shelves and the little boy, who was probably around seven or eight years old, picked up a book and eagerly showed it to his mother.  I couldn’t make out the title because I wasn’t close enough, but there was a lot of pink on the cover.  The mother placed the book back on the shelf and said, “That’s not a boy book” before she herded him on down the aisle, presumably in search of something more appropriate.  I stood there, disappointed for the child who found a book that interested him, but was unable to take it home to read because it was a “girl book.”

I thought about all of the books that I read as a child.  My parents never restricted my access to books.  Now, they did have to remind me to put my book away at the dinner table, but they never told me that I couldn’t read a particular book, and I am so thankful that they trusted me as a reader.  I never once heard my parents say, “that’s a boy book” or “that’s a girl book.”  When they bought books for me, they thought about what I liked, not some stereotype of what I should like.

In my classroom, I don’t recommend books based on “boy books” or “girl books.”  My students often recommend books to each other, and never once have I heard them use the terms “boy books” or “girl books” when making a recommendation.  Recently, a fifth grade boy checked Princess in Black out of my classroom library.  Boys in my classes have enjoyed the Babymouse series.  I have a second grade boy who loves Amelia Bedelia.  They want engaging books to read, just like the little boy today.

I continued shopping, but I couldn’t get that little boy out of my mind.  I wondered which books he ended up choosing and if he was satisfied with his choices.   I really hope that he found something great to read.

 

 

 

6 thoughts on “A conversation at the book fair #sol18

  1. Anna Maria

    I let my students check out a book regardless of what the cover looks like. As long as it sparks their interest I’m all for it. This broke my bookworm heart a little to be honest. I hope he lucked out too with his book purchase.

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  2. Cathy

    It’s funny. When I think back, I don’t remember “boy books” or “girl books” either. Perhaps publishers have a piece in this conversation as well.

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  3. ureadiread

    This is a piece of the bigger conversation going on now about far less restricted access to books for all readers. Whether the barriers are girl/boy distinctions, format (i.e. graphic novels), or level, they are all artificial. I too, was fortunate to grow up a free range reader. It’s an area where as educators and parents and purveyors of books we need to check that our beliefs match our practices.

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  4. Darin Johnston

    I’d love to visit a store like that! And I remember a girl picking up a Mike Lupica book about baseball asking, “Would I like this?” I simply asked her if she liked good stories, to which she said yes. “Then, yes, you will love this book!” While I don’t hear “boy” or “girl” books, sometimes, I wish each sex would have a look at what the other was reading. I think both would be surprised at the quality of reading they are missing!

    Thanks for the slice today!

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