Tips for Homeschooling Mamas

Tales of a Booklady – 5 Things That Make Me Cringe

‘Tis the season for town festivals, holiday shows, book fairs, and bazaars! I absolutely love helping people find the perfect books for the children in their life, all while promoting literacy in my community.

There are several things that make me smile about being a booklady. Hearing a 3 year old at a preschool book fair squeal in excitement, “books!” is music to my ears. Seeing a child who’s a new reader pick out the perfect book warms my heart. Assisting grandparents find a book to mail across the country to their grandkids makes me happy.

To give you a short background, I became an Usborne Books & More consultant almost 10 years ago. I love the books, and they have been an asset in our homeschool. Now that my kids are older, they certainly are not into books as much as they used to be. It used to upset me, but I went through a reading lull for several years myself at their age. Some people are readers, some are not. Some become readers later on. We still read aloud together, and I am able to provide them with great books whenever they want to pick one up.

I always have the most fun at my Usborne booth at festivals. There are all kinds of people who show up at a festival. Visitors from afar, repeat customers, people buying books as gifts, and some who are just browsing. There are some people I keep smiling at, even though some of their comments gripe me in the worst way!

I’ve dropped a few affiliate links, of course! I am an Usborne Books & More Consultant, and I do make a commission from websales. I do not sell, trade, or do anything else with your information, and as a consultant, I offer great service with a smile, always……..even when I’d rather not. For a list of all our books, check out my website!

Five things that make me cringe!

We have too many books.

“What? How can you have too many books? I think what they mean is they need more shelves, or purge some of what they already own. A good rule of thumb is when it’s time for new clothes, it’s time for new books. As children’s bodies grow, so do their minds. They should take advice from the doctor – Dr. Suess, that is.

“Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks”.

Dr. Seuss

We’ve outgrown books.

Really? Books are for any age! Just last week at my booth, an older man was looking for a book for his sister (a retired librarian) who had just suffered a stroke. We offer an array of unabridged classics that are a fit for any age. He chose the Odyssey. He also came back the next day to tell us how much his sister loved it! I recently used our copy of Aesop’s Fables in a lit class for my teens. I can’t help but think that the ones who make such a ridiculous comment have made the decision for their children – that reading is no longer important.

My 6 year old is reading at a 10th grade level.

My response to that is just because they can, doesn’t mean they should. Everyone thinks their kid is a genius, and perhaps they might be. It’s ok for kids to read something that’s easy. It’s ok to read something challenging. Kids should read things appropriate for their age and interests, not their ability. Let them read silly, fun stories with topics that interest them. There’s no need to let them read books that the content is all about dating, high school issues, or crime dramas. Let them be little!

We don’t have money for books.

Now before thinking I have lost my mind and want people to go in debt, not eat a meal, or miss a payment on a bill, let me tell you what I mean. Long ago at one of my first festival booths, a little boy came to my booth alone. He fixed his eyes on a book about spiders. It was one of our $4.99 Beginner books. He looked over the colorful pictures, and I could see the joy on his face as he scanned the book. He set it down, left to get his his mom, and showed it to her. Her response was that they didn’t have money for that.

Can I tell you what she did have money for? A couple of candy apples, a few bags of cotton candy, a big soda, a stuffed animal won from a game, a face-painted little sister, and one of those giant inflatable hammers! All while pushing a Marlboro down the street. Ugh! In hindsight, I wish I would have just given the kid the book. For me, I don’t mind buying books – especially when a child asks for one! As for all that other stuff, I don’t have the money. Really.

I’m sorry honey, if it’s not on the AR List, then you cannot read it – it won’t count.

I hear this one frequently. This is the one that makes my head spin, my pupils shrink, and makes me twitch! I am not much help in helping them find those because we have always homeschooled, and that program was not around when I was in school myself. Being unfamiliar with the program, I did a little research. Talk about limiting potential! From a Google search, I found the following: (you might want to grab your mustard, because the bologna is here!)

Accelerated Reader is a computer program that helps teachers and librarians manage and monitor children’s independent reading practice. Your child picks a book at his own level and reads it at his own pace. When finished, your child takes a short quiz on the computer. (Passing the quiz is an indication that your child understood what was read.) Accelerated Reader gives children, teachers, and librarians feedback based on the quiz results, which the teacher then uses to help your child set goals and direct ongoing reading practice.

Children using Accelerated Reader choose their own books to read, rather than having one assigned to them. This makes reading a much more enjoyable experience as they can choose books that are interesting to them. Teachers and librarians help your child choose books at an appropriate readability level that are challenging without being frustrating, ensuring that your child can pass the quiz and experience success.

If your child does not do well on the quiz, the teacher or librarian may help your child: Choose another book that is more appropriate. Ask more probing questions as your child reads and before your child takes a quiz. Pair your child with another student, or even have the book read to your child.

The three things I gathered are: it’s all about the quiz, it’s not really about book choice if it has to be from a specific list, and reading success means passing a quiz. A few other things I found were that the books are restricted to commercially popular or some kind of other booklist. That makes it difficult for smaller publishing companies to get their books out there, and think of all the good ones that are missed! I also read that kids go for the ones with the larger point values, because books with a lower point value are passed on because they are not with it. I wonder if the content is considered when choosing those larger point valued books? Aren’t we always hearing about funding issues? I’ve heard the AR program is not cheap.

How about not turn reading into a chore, or use some kind of bribery to get kids reading? This is the most inauthentic way to promote lifelong readers. If I was limited to what I could read to pass a computerized quiz, I would never choose to pick up a book and read on my own! What were they thinking?

I’m a teacher without a title. I’m a homeschool mom who taught both my kids how to read well with no formal training, just common sense and frequent reading. I also happen to love children’s books. I’ll stop with the rant, but if you see a friendly book lady at upcoming holiday shows and festivals that you may attend, keep these five things in mind. Unless you want to see her twitch.

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