Today, while working at BR, I noticed a small girl reading while waiting on her parents to finish shopping. She was reading a pretty hefty book, and I smiled — clearly, she enjoyed reading (on the other hand, her brother was playing on the iPad). And then I noticed what, exactly, she was reading: The Hunger Games, but Suzanne Collins. Her name was Marcia, and she was the best part of my day.
So we immediately started up a conversation. I was initially concerned with her age (10) and the nature of the book (violent), but after a few minutes of talking it was clear that she was an avid reader and an intelligent, mature girl (especially for her age). And I was reminded that I frequently read books that were probably inappropriate for my age when I was younger, because I was exactly the same way. We talked about Katniss and Peeta, and even a little bit about the politics and violence, and we both agreed that we felt a vague need to improve our own basic survival skills.
I recommended Tamora Pierce to her, which was my favorite author when I was young — I still read Alanna and the First Adventure on a nearly yearly basis. I mentioned my reading contest with my dad, and as her dad is a similarly avid reader, I hope she can find a similar relationship with him. And I told her to start writing down all the books she reads, because that’s the best thing I’ve done since I started reading in the first place.
It was funny; Marcia and I were extremely happy to meet each other — she was all smiles to be having an intelligent conversation about a book with someone 12 years her senior, she made sure she knew my name when she walked away — but her parents seemed unconcerned with her clear love of books (and in fact, her mom seemed considerably more concerned with sunglasses and fashion). I’m sure they encourage her to read, but I hope they really understand what a fantastic thing it is to truly love reading. It’s the best gift I’ve ever received from my parents.