By Janice Lindsay
Was it legal for a grown-up to have this much fun in a bookstore? To smile and even chuckle as she turned pages of a potential purchase? To wish she could share these children’s books with other grown-ups who passed by on their own searches?
Part of my delight was this: I had become a Grammy. I wasn’t sure that I would ever own that coveted title, but there she was, a beautiful granddaughter. I wanted to do something special for her, something representing my own loves and my aspirations for her, something nobody else would think to do for her.
Solution: a book-of-the-month club, in which I would choose the books.
For a long time, I had had no reason to buy bunches of children’s books.
I began reading to our son, the baby’s father, when he was 6 weeks old. I thought there might be a window of opportunity for each child: Capture his imagination at the right moment and create a fellow book-lover. I didn’t want to miss that window. Apparently, I didn’t. He loves books. But he’s a grown-up. It had been years since I read his Little Golden Books picture book about baby animals.
Thanks to being a Grammy, I had a new reason to buy children’s books. Once more, I had an opportunity to help encourage a little one to love books. That’s the good news. The bad news: We live on opposite coasts and rarely see each other. So each month I put a new book in the mail to California. Anybody can go online and register a child for a book club, but why should I pay somebody to choose books when I can have so much fun doing it myself?
Two years after I became a Grammy, I became a double-Grammy, with the arrival of my granddaughter’s baby sister.
Now, two books go in the mail every month. I’m told the girls love getting books from Grammy.
I don’t think children had book clubs when my sister and I were little. As I grew older, I read the grown-up books my grandmother received in hers – after she had checked their suitability, of course. But when we were teenagers, someone enrolled our younger siblings in a children’s book club. What a sweet surprise for all of us each month when that package arrived: to unwrap a new treasure with a new story to love. Some of those books sit on my shelves even now. Our son enjoyed them. Once in a while, I send one to the girls.
One of my first delightful bookstore discoveries, after I became Grammy, was the Indestructibles series from Workman Publishing, described as “books babies can really sink their gums into.” They’re non-toxic, they won’t rip or get soggy with drool, and they’re washable. It’s the kind of book I chuckled over in the bookstore. When I bought some of these books, the clerk quietly confided that she had tried to rip one and could not.
But that was eight years ago. Indestructibles are still available but I no longer have a reason to buy them. My purchases have become more sophisticated as the girls have grown.
March 2 was annual Read Across America Day, sponsored by the National Education Association, on the birthday of Dr. Seuss, beloved author of children’s books. The purpose is to get kids excited about reading. My granddaughters and I, living near opposite oceans, are reading “across America” in almost a literal sense. I can’t speak for the girls, but Grammy sure is having fun.