One of the fringe benefits of being a writer is the affect it has on the literacy of the children and teens in my life. I love connecting with other authors at conferences and then giving the kids I know a little "inside information". I tell the kids about new books coming out, what they should read next, what they should tell all their friends about, and I often bring home signed copies of new books and well-established favorites. My two little readers say they miss me when I go away for a few days to a writing conference, but it isn't a secret that they look forward to the armload of signed books I bring home for them. It started out as a peace offering for my absence. Now, I think it has evolved to a shift in their perspective. They look forward to those books. Even better are the occasional times I've been able to hand them a copy of a book before its actual release date. Thanks to my awesome critique partner, Kate Coursey, my daughter read an ARC of Stefan Bachmann's "The Peculiar", the summer before its release.
My home is a haven for reading. I have a room dedicated to it, full of soft-cushioned couches, blankets to curl up in, a rocking chair, absolutely no technological distractions, and very full bookshelves. However, I noticed that many of the shelves were, for the most part, ignored by my early-reader son. I decided to overhaul the bookshelf. I pulled everything off, covering the floor with piles marked Animal Stories; Stories From Other Cultures; Holiday and Seasonal Stories; Chapter Books; Fairy Tales; Animals and Nature; People, Places, and Things. The piles went on and on and my little reader walked in with wide eyes.
"What are you doing?"
Clearly, he thought his neat-freak mom had lost her mind. He never sees me sitting in the middle of such a mess with a peaceful look on my face. I was having fun with this clutter, and he couldn't understand how that could be possible.
"I'm putting the books into sections on the bookshelf. So you can find your favorite stories when you know what you want to read."
"Like in the library?"
Bingo. He plopped on the floor beside me and began to "help". He sorted two books into their correct categories before he settled in a corner with a book that caught his attention. He read piles of books for nearly two hours on his own that night. Success!
All the books have gone back onto the shelf, but I've placed labeled dividers between each category and my little reader is quick to find something that interests him in any given moment. He's even become the sorting expert and the bookshelf police. Sometimes he'll call out, "Hey! Somebody put 'Abiyoyo' in 'Picture Books'. It goes in 'Stories From Other Cultures', guys!"
Literacy is in full bloom. Happy Spring.