What’s the most unexpected place that you’ve encountered a book?
Once I left my regular neighborhood grocery store in my regular midwestern city on a regular day and was met by someone handing out copies of the Bhagavad Gita. (Which always reminds me of this New Yorker cartoon). Obviously, I was delighted to take a copy.
It would seem kids books are popping up in interesting places, too. Last weekend, my kids ate at Chick-Fil-A and their toy was a tiny Curious George book. The next day their meal came with Rory’s Story Cubes which are such great storytelling tools. I genuinely do want to collect all 9. The girls loved the book and the story cubes. As did I.
Years ago a box of Cheerio’s came with a copy (bilingual!) of Dream Away by Julia Durango, Katie Belle Trupiano, and Robert Goldstrom - which we enjoyed and always read in both English AND Spanish. It turns out, General Mills started a Cheer on Reading program in 2002. Though now defunct, the program gave away 11 million books through cereal boxes just in 2013 alone! GM also supported Little Free Library - namely funding 50 LFLs in the Dallas Fort Worth area in 2014.
Is DFW a hotbed of progressive bookishness? Because that’s where we were last weekend when the girls and I stumbled on Bookmarks - a kid-specific branch of the Dallas Public Library located inside a shopping mall. Genius! Turns out this is a thing. And has been since 2001 when the King County Library System in Washington started this trend with The Library Connection @ Crossroads Mall.
It's so smart to combine libraries and shopping malls - to cross pollinate the architectural and design insights of retail with the vast and accessible resources of libraries. I think it's especially smart to focus on kids books in such a venue. I would enjoy going to a mall a lot more if I had a library to relax in with my kids.
(Also of note - some retailers seem to be taking a page from the library playbook, as this article suggests. And as my visits to Warby Parker stores in Fort Worth and in KC suggest - stores I visited not because I needed glasses but because they look like libraries.)
I’ve also recently learned of Barbershop Books, “the nation’s most innovative solution for inspiring young black boys to read” - which brings kids, adults, and books together by creating child friendly reading spaces in barbershops. By focusing on boys and male role models in reading, this program is a particularly unique and brilliant approach. Founder Alvin Irby aims to inspire kids to “identify as readers.” His work goes deep - I highly recommend his TED talk.
Lastly, a program called Reach Out and Read advocates for childhood literacy by supplying families with age- and culturally-appropriate books for children at their pediatric visits. Wouldn't it be amazing if receiving a book at a doctor's visit became a normal part of every child's life?
Have you seen books show up in any inspired or interesting places? Or where would you like to see them?