A customer came into the bookstore this week and asked for VERY specific books: books about girls playing hockey. I told her I didn't think we had any. I suggested books about other sports... but she shot them down because they were "boy books." I told her there weren't many books where girls are the main characters playing the sports (sad but true). We at the bookstore have to keep in only what sells. The rest goes! So that's that. She told me that it's her job to work with children and get them to read and her current client is a reluctant reader. She plays hockey so she wants a book about a character who does that.
This is my thinking: who would you want to read about a character who does the same activity that you do? What about some variety? I mean, adults should think of it this way: if you're an accountant would you want to read about a character who is an accountant? I suggested to the customer that she try Roald Dahl or some quirky books. She wasn't interested. She asked for biography books - So I said there's a new one about a soccer player. She said that the girl doesn't play soccer. I didn't comment.
I asked her if she'd ever tried graphic novels. I pointed to the new table we made with a plethora of graphic novels - both fiction and nonfiction. We have some great titles on the table. She said, "Graphic novels are for the bathroom." Ugh! I wanted to scream! I quietly responded with, "I have to disagree." We got into a discussion about this but there was no changing the customer's mind. She said, "I have a degree in this (I think she said a masters at some point) and I"m hired to get children to read." I said that I know and that graphic novels are great tools to get children to read. She said they were awful because the provide the pictures for the reader and therefore children won't be able to be imaginative. She thinks when children read they should imagine the images in their head.
OKAY. Here's the deal with graphic novels and the readers who I think read them... or at least people like me! There are people who are highly creative and have images floating around in their heads ALL OF THE TIME. They do not need any extra help with images. Therefore there is no harm what so ever in adding images to text. Believe me, people like me probably need a little break from all of the floating images! Secondly, when you read a graphic novel you are doing two things at once and using both sides of your brain. In a way it's more difficult than reading plain text. You read the text and then you must digest the image. When I look at the images I appreciate the various perspectives and uses of colors, etc. Books like these can give kids a new appreciation for art. The third thing is that the nonfiction titles can educate in a new and different way.
So... this woman is DEAD WRONG! It makes me sad that people like her are so stubborn and are hired to educate children.