My dentist shares his latest reading material while he scrutinises my teeth. This week, he talked about hoaxed material within the National Archives, how to test psychotic tendencies and the gut’s nervous system. I do not share his reading tastes or opinions but trust his dental skills.
We are currently comparing home flooring options. We are resolved to discuss our options with experienced experts after hearing a raft of ‘recommendations’.
Sunnier days have enabled preparations for a scented clematis to run along our shady fence line. The advice I took as to my choice was from a trusted online horticulturist.
A corridor of trustworthy booksellers
Recently we joined other invited independent booksellers in Committee room 4A of the House of Lords. Lord Bird called this meeting to discuss reasons for the decline in numbers of independent bookshops in Britain. Advantages offered to Amazon, unfair tax breaks, publishing preorder offers to chains, and mercenary school budgets were discussed. At one point it was agreed public preference for bargains over quality is a major factor.
The value of a quality reading for pleasure experience
Lord Bird opined, ‘Literacy through libraries and bookshops is the oxygenator of people’s lives. In prison, 37% of inmates are illiterate, children failed through the system’.
Writer Ben Aaronvitch told the assembly, ‘If I don’t know what to read, I go to a bookseller, a specialist independent bookseller. I trust their expertise like an ecology- from authors to booksellers.‘
I spent years training in reading and children’s literature, ahead of creating Bookwagon. Thereafter I taught, with library and reading responsibilities, and English leadership and innovation. I think about children’s books constantly. Reading matters to me for I believe it to be the heartbeat to every child’s personal development. Research proves the huge benefits of a literate society that reads for pleasure:-
Education reading research team:- Evidence on reading for pleasure From demonstrating greater self-confidence, general knowledge, to understanding other cultures, a literate person, with a consistent ‘reading for pleasure’ habit is enabled.
“Adolescents entering the adult world in the 21st century will need to read and write more than at any other time in human history. They will need advanced levels of literacy to perform their jobs, run their households, act as citizens, and conduct their personal lives. They will need literacy to cope with the flood of information they will find everywhere they turn. They will need literacy to feed their imaginations, so they can create the world of the future. In a complex, and sometimes dangerous world, the ability to read can be crucial.”
— International Reading Association, (Moore et al, 1999, p. 3 as cited by Clark & Rumbold, 2006).
So again, who do you trust?
Would you trust Amazon to build a reading for pleasure habit? Or do you prefer chain stores offering the same cut price books and deals, threatening diminished payments to writers, who create works we love and need? Could you trust book fairs with unfeasibly huge percentage returns of inferior, merchandising linked stock for your school? Do you prefer an independent bookseller you can trust, one who reads, loves and knows children’s books like the proud company in Committee Room 4A?
Following the trail
For some years I worked with an outstanding teacher of Japanese, Yuka Yokozawa. During her school holiday travels, Yuka sought inspiration from Indian landscapes and music.. A chance taxi encounter introduced her to her now-husband, Sunil Kumar V Kaushik. Yuka’s travels became a shared adventure, as they journeyed by bicycle on the Silk Route from Thailand.
Yuka and Sunil’s journey, Yuka and Sunil Golden Hearts on the Road TED talk shares an experience of charity, trust and openheartedness. Many places they visited were, by Western standards, ‘third world’, lesser known, remote and unsophisticated. Reading Yuka’s and Sunil’s words reinforces what we might lose in our humanity, real choice and responsibility, community, and trust.
Mr Bookwagon peruses Saturday newspaper guides to find television programmes to watch. but little appeals through the many channels, little appeals, frequently.
Kylie spoke of ‘golden days of the ’80’s with cassette tapes’ as she introduced her new album on the radio. We reminisced about mix tapes, and Top 40 countdowns. There is greater choice in music, yet we listen less. There is so much listening choice yet we do not listen.
Sharing Yuka and Sunil’s Silk Road experience left me thinking constantly about what is valuable. Jazz trumpeter, Roy Hargrove offers, ‘Art is a mirror to society.’ Roy Hargrove The state of jazz education
An Arts Council representative attending the House of Lords’ meeting considered that literature has equality with music, drama, dance and art. Reader development is a priority, with booksellers of trust seen as the people to buy from. ‘Independent booksellers are a workforce of ‘quality people’ who make the buying experience interesting and informed.’
Amazon’s and chainstores’ drive for mass sales impacts on readers further, in that it threatens to turn books over more rapidly. Books have a shorter shelf life, with less time to ‘make it’. Big publishing companies with finance to mass market the next ‘bestseller’ will dominate the market so there is less opportunity and choice. A chainstore assistant or volunteer librarian would be unaffected by this, but it devastates a professional librarian and independent bookseller. We want books to be read and loved as we read and love them. The creators of these works deserve to earn a fair living.
While readers of this blog are informed, we request this information is shared. Independent booksellers matter in society. We are people you can trust to recommend quality children’s books.
Some great new titles you can trust
Mr Bookwagon has been immersed in West African mysticism and mythology in the groundbreaking Children of Blood and Bone, recommended for older readers.
I urge older readers toward Rebound, written in narrative verse, with comic book pages, holding truths of persistence, responsibility and loyalty. Newbery Medal winning writer Kwame Alexander’s latest title left me weeping at its conclusion.
Younger readers will enjoy new titles, including lift-the flap fun in Teatime with Ted and a gentle rhyming morality tale in Goat’s Coat. There’s a relatable blame game in the witty Horrible Bear by fun-filled duo Ame Dyckman and Zachariah O’Hara, creators of a favourite recent title, Read the Book Lemmings. Picture books for slightly older readers with bold, side-kicking females include Tiger Lily and the very funny, Juniper Jupiter.
Following up works by Americans, Ame Dyckman and Zachariah O’Hara, led to searching for more from an international picture book maker, Daniel Egneus, whose recent work, These are Animals delights. In Raven Child and The Snow Witch, written by Linda Sunderland, he imagined a glorious fable land.
April 2nd is not the sole International Children’s Books’ Day at Bookwagon. The European award winning Elise and the Second-hand Dog includes themes of sadness, within an imaginative and funny story. Reading this led me to Meet at the Ark at Eight, a complex,witty tale of morality, religion and philosophy.
Further titles for newer readers include Teacup House Meet the Twitches an introduction to a charming series. The Nothing to see Here Hotel is another opening title to a new series, with a madcap, goblin guzzling story within a Brighton seafront setting.
Bookwagon is extending its stock of books for readers with dyslexic tendencies. Jo Cotterill’s Hopewell High series gripping introduction, All Too Much, is recommended for older readers.
Time to read is offered in the longer days, holiday and hints of summer, though the weather may be hit and miss. I trust you’ll find something that fits Bookwagon’s recommendations.