(Fess up; what brings out the book snob in you? Leave it in the comments!)
“One of the hardest things about this job,” someone told me as I started my work with Scholastic Book Fairs this week, “Is getting over your book snobbery.”
Book snobbery? Was this directed at me, specifically? Did I come off as a book snob?
Looking around the cases, there were, of course, the books that wouldn’t have caught my eye as an author and avid reader:
The TV Tie-Ins…
The photoshopped cute and cuddly animals…
The gender stereotypes…
But was that so bad? I mean, as English majors (assuming you are reading my blog because you are, in fact, just like me- if so, let me save you some trouble; those little red spots mean you are allergic to almonds) weren’t we trained to seek out great literature and avoid cheap tricks at all costs?
Luckily, before I could go running my mouth off and make a fool of myself, someone casually mentioned to me that, at any company that really cares about kids, some books are just used to lure them in.”Imagine,” someone told me, “That you’re in a room full of books, and you don’t think you like to read. Everything in the room is unfamiliar to you. Everything is a little scary.”
Everything, that is, until you see a familiar face- SpongeBob SquarePants, or Pikachu, or a puppy that looks just like yours. Suddenly, you feel at ease. Reading is not such an unfamiliar experience, and the shelves aren’t full of strangers- your friends are there.
And like any good friend in an unfamiliar environment, they introduce you to new friends. They make you feel even more relaxed and comfortable, just by being there, and you realize you want to explore. Your eyes are opened to all sorts of new things.
Books steeped in history…
If it takes a WWE wrestler to get kids reading about World War II heroes, I’ll put those books on the shelf any day. I can support those choices.
Even if you don’t work in kids’ publishing, however, you’ve definitely got to admit that you, yes YOU, can be an awfully big book snob. A month ago (heck, a week ago) I probably would have told you I’d never read any of the following:
Sci-Fi, chick Lit, vampires, zombies, animals, romance, self-help, fantasy, books that came after the movie, books that are meant to gross you out, books with money on the cover… you get the idea.
Man, was that limiting me. Opening myself up to children’s books- really diving in, head first, to a world I didn’t always love even when I was there- has been extremely liberating. I realized how many books I was missing, even if I wasn’t missing them.
On Thursday, I flew first class for the first time in my life. I sat in the very first row, a good four rows of the business elite facing me in their oversized, reclining seats. I read Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell. And I was not ashamed.