Sunday, May 26, 2013

Writing while parenting. Interesting youth in turning pages.

Last week I scooped up copies of Chicken Soup for the African-American Woman's Soul, and pulled my suitcase of books while holding a little hand. I figured the best way to break my little one in to the book signing environment was to do so locally. I woke up my treasure just after the crack of dawn. He was cranky but agree to accept a cup of milk. I baked muffins at 4:00 AM and packed his little people "stuff."

Things were going well, until I realized that the back wheels to my luggage had broken. It had been a while since I've been circulating in this way ; I'd plain forgotten! I still dragged it half way across the building while asking him to follow me. He sparked some waves and points from seniors.

We arrived and set up. All was well in book fair world, until I realized that there was no eating allowed in the room. He started tugging at his book bag, but I was supposed to speak. So, the moderator was nice enough to keep him in one spot until that was over. We trekked down the hall so that he could eat something, then returned to the fair. A few authors let him help give out book marks, so that he could stretch his legs. When it was almost time to go, I found myself chasing him down while circling tables. Yes, I got lots of cardio in that day.

All in all, he was a good toddler, considering that the event lasted nearly four hours. By the time we reached home, his head was slumped over, his baseball hat atop it. He had crumbs all over his clothes from those muffins. However, I felt content that others saw the value in including a very young child in the book fair experience. If more kids should read, I see no reason why I should wait to expose him to the environment, although he is under 2.

Now that I'm a parent, there are days when I feel that time won't allow me to pen another book, or that I worry over technology interrupting the good ole experience of picking up a book before bed time. The thing is, it's my responsibility to respect and encourage tradition. Looking back on it, I too was taught to love books long before I was required to do so.

Someone I know well shared something startling with me. She said that she can get plenty of free books for her children where she lives, because none of them sell during school book fairs, and not many people want them at all--even free ones. As a result, the school happily gives them away. And there are also other urban reading programs where interest in literacy is super low. Now I know why her house is full of nice children's books. What a shame.