Walking my dog Ryder in the park is a great way to catch up on what’s happening around town. Two of my dog-walking pals, Benilde and Claire, were chatting about an upbeat story on independent bookstores that just appeared in a major New Jersey paper. Watchung Booksellers, a warm, inviting book emporium filled with literary treasures and a favorite of authors in Montclair, was spotlighted.
Walking and talking of bookstores led pretty naturally to talking about books — and about how many kids these days are lobbying for iPads and Kindles. Oh, but there’s nothing like holding a real, live book in your hand and paging through it, the three of us found ourselves lamenting.
Which led Claire to tell us about the first word she ever read. Her mother had read her a book with an apple tree in it when she was about four. One day, she picked up the book by herself and suddenly recognized the word “apple.” What a thrill it was to know she was reading! From then on, she was unstoppable! She read everything. Like me, she was a flashlight gal — and would sit in bed pouring over books at night under the covers when everyone else was asleep.
“Mary Poppins! Oh, Mary Poppins!” Claire exclaimed, her voice growing dreamy at the memory of it all. “My mother would call me and say it was time for dinner. But that was crazy! How was I supposed to come home when I was in England with Mary?”
A little girl next door came up to Claire recently and proudly announced that she was reading a chapter book. Claire said to her, “You keep reading! Reading gives you knowledge and knowledge is power — and you want to grow up to be a powerful girl, don’t you?” “Yes, yes, I do!” the little girl replied. Well, you go, girl! And while you’re at it, forget the iPad and stick with the pages!