Sunday, September 19, 2010

Books of Wonder

Have you seen those illustrated posters with a reclining child peering into an open book and springing forth from the pages are fierce dragons, brave knights, waterfalls, pirates and all manner of magical creatures?

When I was a boy I used to love those images and the captions that read something like "Reading makes all things possible" or "Reading opens a world of imagination".

I felt like the child in that poster. I knew well the fascinating journey that reading engendered. The adventures stayed with me when I put the book down too.

My bed became a boat with billowed sail, like Max in Where the Wild Things Are, only if I stepped off my boat I would suddenly become engulfed in hot lava. My poor stuffed turtle, Myrtle (pictured), was sometimes made to test the temperature of the lava by selfishly sacrificing herself for the good of the crew. I usually let her live.

Or I could be a wizard of great power transporting myself to any place in the world with the simple blink of an eye.

I once tried to build a log cabin based on the description by Laura Ingalls Wilder in one of the Little House books. I learned about frontier life from Young Pioneers and times long gone by from Betsy and Billy .

I loved books, still do. The smell of them. The weight. The journey. I loved sitting in the back of my living room surrounded by my family who were watching television and talking while I turned page after page. Or going to the park with my grandpa, sitting under a tree with a book while he flew his homemade kites with my brothers.

All of this was running thorough my mind as I walked to Books of Wonder in NYC this past week. I heard about this popular children's book store but had never ventured over there. It was about time I did!

The store houses an impressive collection of old and rare books, classic picture books, modern picture books, sale items (50% off!) and original artwork (pictured blue horse & red bird from Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? by Eric Carle).

They host children's book authors and illustrators for readings and many of the books are signed by the author/illustrator.

I became lost in the familiar titles and then lost again as I explored the newest releases. When I was approached by the staff for assistance "Can I help you find anything?", my smile and wide eyes let her know immediately that I had found my little patch of heaven (either that or she thought I was some nut who wandered in off the street).

I walked out wishing that I had allowed myself more time for this visit and with a list of books to recommend to our school librarian. If you find yourself in NYC do yourself a favor and stop by Books of Wonder - they also have a cupcake cafe connected to the store providing an extra enticement.


Dumdad said...

Ah, the bliss of books!

I read all the time and, I'm happy to say, my children are big readers as well; that is, when their heads aren't stuffed into a computer screen.

The Frog Queen said...

When I taught English to French primary school children, my best sessions were those using books, and Brown Bear, Brown Bear was a favourite with the younger pupils and so was My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes which was also a great way to introduce other cultures. Books are wonderful!

Barbara said...

If and when I come to NYC, let's meet up at that children's bookstore. I will even treat you to a cupcake!

I'm curious as to how you feel about electronic books since you obviously get a thrill from touching the pages. Have you tried to read an e-book?

Gary said...

Dumdad - The computer is totally changing how we look at literacy. It even has a name "New Literacies" and research is exploring how the internet is changing how we read such as jumping from link to link instead of reading in a more linear way. It's all very interesting but it's great news that they are reading. There are tons of folks for whom reading holds no magic or interest.

Frog Queen - Thanks for hopping over to FYB. I learned a little German from my copy of Curious George in German. I would love to get it in French as well and see where that leads. I don't know My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes but I will check it out.

Barbara - It's a date that I very much look forward to. About electronic books, as of yet I have no interest. I am big for going back while reading to reread particular passages and I am not sure how easily I would find them with an e-book. I also like the weight of a book. The substance. And I like to highlight words or passages that I might want to pepper conversations with one day so how would that work? I am sure that one day I'll give it a go. I once said that I would never write a paper on the computer (preferring to write it out long hand) but nowadays I can't imagine writing something academic with a pad and pen. How about you?

Barbara said...

I used all those same arguments you have until just a few months ago. But truthfully, although I no longer remember where something is on the page, I can use the search capability to find the first mention of a name or a place or anything else. I had any number of books on my iPad, which weighs almost nothing, and never ran out of reading material on my recent trip. As much as I love the smell and feel of a real book, I'm much more comfortable with the e-book concept than I ever thought possible.

Pauline said...

What a wonderful discovery. I rarely go to the city but that bookstore is one place I'd visit - of course, I'd never come out if once I went in. When I was small and people asked what I wanted to be when I grew up I said a hermit and my cave would have access to the library!


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