Lea Wait, here. First, I have to admit an addiction. When days are dreary, stories are stubborn and editing just seems to make my work worse, not better …. I turn not to whiskey or cigarettes, those classic writerly crutches, nor to running 10Ks and yoga classes, addictions of more energetic souls. Chocolate is tempting, and a cup of tea with a taste of cognac in mid-afternoon has been known to perk me up. But my main addiction, the one thing I can’t seem to break myself of … is watching CNN.
Now, that addiction could be the basis of a number of blogs. And may be in the future, so don’t think you’re through with reading about it now. But in the past ten days the news cycle focused on American shopping has been, frankly, driving me to a bit more than a taste of that cognac. Black Friday, beginning on Thanksgiving. Small Business Saturday. Shop Local. Cyber Monday.
Not to speak of those who feel pepper spray, guns, overnight camping outside electronics stores, and mob scenes inside, are appropriate seasonal celebrations.
Which all leads me to the subject of this blog. Next Saturday is a designated shopping day I not only approve of, I actually celebrate. “Take Your Child To a Bookstore Day” is a lovely idea whose time has come. (It actually came last year; this is the second annual celebration, but don’t confuse me with facts.)
Children need to know whole stores exist where books can be purchased. Real, hard and paper-backed, books, you can take home and treasure and re-read as many times as you’d like. They’re not expensive — they range from $6 or $7 for most paperbacks to under $20 for a hard cover. Less than many chain restaurant lunches. Treated well, they’ll last a lifetime.
And they come with bonuses. Their purchase supports that independent bookstore in your community that’s struggling to survive. (You know it is.) It supports the author of the book, and encourages his or her publisher to publish another book of his or hers. And it brings you and the child you take to that bookstore, whether your son or daughter or grandchild or godchild or neighbor or niece or the shy children of the family you met when you served dinner at the homeless shelter on Thanksgiving, closer together, as you share the gift of books.
A bookstore in your neighborhood may have planned a special event for December 3; bookstores in 35 states, 2 Canadian provinces, England, and Australia have done so. To see, check http://www.takeyourchildtoabookstore.org But don’t wait for a special event.
And, since this is a blog about Maine, I won’t end without recommending a few of my favorite Maine books for children. Picture books? Miss Rumphius and Island Boy by Barbara Cooney; One Morning in Maine and Blueberries For Sal by Robert McCloskey; Counting Our Way to Maine by Maggie Smith; The Sea Chest by Toni Buzzeo. For older readers, Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, Sarah Plain and Tall and its sequel, Skylark, by Patricia MacLachlan, Touch Blue by Cynthia Lord, The Penderwicks at Point Mouette by Jeanne Birdsall, and The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister by Charlotte Agell. You can’t go wrong with any of them. Or with any of the other hundreds of wonderful books for children sitting on those shelves waiting for you. (Four of mine are there, too: Stopping to Home, Seaward Born, Wintering Well, and Finest Kind, all set in 19th century Maine.)
And, of course, while your child is picking out a book or three, you can always wander over to the mystery section of that bookstore. Books by some wonderful Maine Crime Writers would also make great holiday gifts!