A conversation at the book fair #sol18


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.

    Liked by 1 person

  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.


  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.


  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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