I have written recently about the power of book sharing*. The focus on book sharing is critical because this activity can provide the substance, depth and richness to relationships that are possible when books become central to conversations in families, neighborhoods and larger communities.
Book sharing can be layered from the intimate recommendations of friends and siblings, to suggestions of parents, neighbors and teachers, to the delights found in school, neighborhood (e.g., Little Free Libraries) and community libraries.
This differs from buying books at new and used bookstores or yard sales. Consider the differences between getting a cookie out of a vending machine, or buying one from a smiling clerk at a bakery, or being offered a cookie by a friend or loved one. Items that are generously shared tend to hold more value than not.
Freely sharing things is not transactional. It is reciprocal, with each gift inviting the recipient’s generosity in return. Sharing books with children and families creates and strengthens broader relationships. It builds bridges and creates new ways to reflect and relate together over time. Everyone wins.
Relating to others, of course, is the whole point of being literate. Authors share their expertise or vision through the written word, and readers receive the impact of new information, novel experiences and deep feelings, connecting them to the authors and other readers of that same literature.
Book sharing creates a hum of admiration among fellow readers for the book and the author’s craft, and magnifies enjoyment with a story’s characters and their relationships. Book sharing also can offer new revelations and advancements in thinking if reading history, science, mathematics, sociology, and so much more.
A gentle undercurrent in a community of growth and advancement through each individual’s appreciation of books, authors, writing, and reading creates a clear culture of reading. Through that constant enrichment, small children grow in understanding the primacy of books and learning, and the power in the personal growth and productivity that those support.
Discussions among community members in a sharing environment creates and strengthens family and neighborhood relationships that endure, forging a solid foundation that fortifies and extends beyond individual differences in religions, politics and background. Out of nowhere it seems, conversations can be heard that may sound like…
- “You’ve always got a book going. Whatcha readin’ there?”
- “Ada is crazy about airplanes. Could we borrow that book when you are finished?”
- “I just finished a book by James Lee Burke. It’s my third. This guy writes like a dream!”
Surely, casual discussions about everyday matters of family and life create the fabric of a society. However, deeper sources of ideas and information, like those found in books, fortify family and community cultures. Most importantly, these interactions signal to the children the power and potential of books and reading in life, and magnify for them the WHY of learning to read well as they grow.