I have a sweet tooth. There’s no denying it. And to my chagrin, my eternally slender wife outlaws anything coming through the front door that would make my mouth water like virtually any and all sweets do. However, it is a given that when we are out of the house for a meal that I am allowed (if not encouraged) to order whatever I want at a restaurant. I specialize in choosing delicious treats that I won’t ever get at home, as well as smilingly accepting offers of dessert seconds from dinner hosts.
If I find myself at an event or restaurant that has a buffet, I find myself staring at the dessert table and thinking, “So many choices for such a little plate. Dang!”
My solution? Well, after I circle my prey several times I remember this is only a problem for others. For me? No worries. I don’t have to choose what to enjoy. I only have to choose what to enjoy FIRST! All anxiety vanishes and I select the delicacy that is probably the best candidate to be my first, second helping.
I bring up my utter lack of control toward sweets because I have a similar experience when deciding what to read next. In the same way that the dessert table presents a broad range of delights, none of which I care to pass up, any of our home’s books-in-waiting piles demands that I select some special one item to dive into.
Like my shameless dessert table behavior, my book selection behavior goes something like this:
Arriving back at my chair, I place my most recent book choice on top of another, somewhat smaller stack of books, each one of which I have at least nibbled on already. So choosing shifts over to which inquiry or story is more compelling than this latest brand new, untasted, gift-to-self.
Of course, in the long run, it doesn’t matter which I pick as I nestle into a comfy position. In fact, some of my already-sampled books will have grown stale, having been passed over multiple times in favor of other choices in the stack, each of which has fully riveted my attention at some point in the past. So by the time I get back to some of these, I just start over, having forgotten key aspects of their strong flavors and the subtleties of their styles. Re-reading books is not an issue for me. While the book of course hasn’t changed, I have, so sweet delights therein offer nearly as many surprises as did my first taste.
My visits to these, usually end-of-day satiating offerings of mental and emotional nourishment are even better for the knowledge that, while I eventually exhaust my end of meal yearnings for something sweet, I’m not likely EVER to satisfy my hunger for just one more chapter before I turn out the light.
But the most important question is: how do get children to show as much enthusiasm to choose books as they usually do when presented with a smorgasbord of sweets?
- Set up the buffet of books in library, home or classroom
- Invite them to borrow / check out as many books as they like
- Create and maintain a culture that values personal enjoyment and delight in reading above all else
- Encourage them to try each to ensure it’s what they want
- Let them know that abandoning a book part way through, or reading several at once, is just fine
- Invite them to publicly savor the results.