Almost all of us can recall childhood memories of being surrounded by bookson visits to our local library or the bookstore in our neighborhood. It was like being in a literary candy store filled with tantalizing delights – each one ready to be unwrapped and savored. But as e-books and the like become more available and popular, an outing to the neighborhood bookstore almost seems quaint and anachronistic.
Nowadays, the bookstore is an endangered species and even libraries are battling budget cuts that force them to reduce hours and mean less money to acquire new books.
But you can’t huddle up in a quiet corner of an iPad to page through a stack of picture books with your child, or encourage him to get lost in the stacks on your laptop. Children who love to read learn to treasure books -books with bindings and covers and pages to be dog-eared and revisited. Nothing can replace the heft of a book in your hand, or your kid anticipating the turn of a page as you read aloud with her in your lap. Remember how exciting it was to bring a brand new book home and have it on your bookshelf? It was like having a friend who was always around and ready for adventure.
In San Francisco there’s a couple, Christin Evans and Praveen Madan, intent on saving the bookstore from extinction by bringing it into the 21 st century as an important community gathering place. They own The Booksmith, an indie- bookstore in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood and believe that the fight to save independent bookstores is actually more about tending to the diversity and vitality of our culture and strengthening our local communities.
In a Huffington Post article Christin and Praveen wrote, “You can buy a book anywhere but you can’t buy community...Around every successful independent bookstore there is a loving community of readers and writers engaged in thoughtful conversation and debate about important issues. Around every successful independent bookstore there is a group of informed citizens and social groups that are trying to build a better world.”
And their vision of the neighborhood bookstore includes a section that’s dedicated to young readers. This is the place where parents and their kids can while away the afternoon lost in the pages of a book and deepen their love of words and stories. And equally as important, they can also connect with other families in their neighborhood who make the community bookstore their destination too.