Book Finding

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. 

by Julia Durango, Katie Belle Trupiano, and Robert Goldstrom

by Julia Durango, Katie Belle Trupiano, and Robert Goldstrom

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.

Bookmarks - a Dallas Public Library - Northpark Center Mall

Bookmarks - a Dallas Public Library - Northpark Center 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?