As a kid I was a big reader. For whatever reason I seemed to learn to read pretty early, and I always loved curling up with a book. As soon as I advanced to the level of young reader novels, my parents started buying me the Babysitter’s Little Sister series, which turned into the Babysitter’s Club series, which turned into a rather large bookcase by the end of it. I read really fast, so I’d go back to my favorite books all the time, and I was a regular at our town’s library, where I’m pretty sure I’d read every kid-friendly book available right up until I hit junior high.
And while I was, in fact, a bit of a geek and a nerd, and suffered a wee (*cough cough*) bit of teasing and tormenting throughout my childhood, I attribute my love of reading to a great deal, including educational and career-related success, as well as an ability to express myself, even if I require time and a word processor to do so.
The point that I’m trying to get to is that from the moment I knew I was going to have a child, I knew that I wanted that child to be a good reader, one way or the other, because I know far too many grown adults in this day and age who can barely read the newspaper without asking someone what a certain word is, and that’s just sad and depressing to me.
So I started reading to my daughter at a young age, and encouraged her to point out words herself. Every night for years I’d read to her at bedtime, until eventually she started reading small books to me instead. I’m very supportive of any kind of reading as well, because the way I look at it, words are words, and not everything has to be fine literature, as long as the reader is enjoying themselves. So I let her read comics, graphic novels, and give her dialect-driven video games to play. I give her classics like Robert Munsch’s The Paperbag Princess, and I give her licensed books about shows she enjoys, like My Little Pony and Ninja Turtles. And I always encourage her to read more and more difficult things, especially if they’re of something she loves (and thus would be willing to challenge herself with), like the Sailor Moon manga that she’s been absolutely devouring.
Long story short: I’ve worked to raise my daughter to enjoy – and be good at – reading, and I’m very proud of that and am more than happy to buy her more and more books/comics/whatever if it keeps her loving it.
And herein lies the dilemma.
I’m sure most of the people reading this know what Scholastic Reading Club is. If you don’t, they’re an organization that works through schools to hold book fairs and send home flyers of books and small toys, and a portion of the proceeds from any sales goes to that particular school. It’s an excellent program that’s been in existence for at LEAST 30 years, since I remember it from the second I entered grade primary, and it’s still going on now. While I’m sure some parents get exasperated with the flyers showing up every month or so, I personally love it, because there are often great deals on bundles of books, it helps encourage kids to read, and the school gets some money! Win-win-win! And of course, it’s another win when my daughter comes home from school with one of these flyers, and informs me that she’s circled the books she wants. “Yay!” says me, “My daughter is excited about books! That’s so awesome! I’m going to buy her all the books!”
She circled over $300 worth of books, you guys.
Mind you, a few of those books were things like crafts and collector’s guides, which I automatically discount because those are the kinds of things that go on birthday and Christmas lists, not just random, everyday “I want this” lists. But even still, there’s got to be $250 worth of ACTUAL books circled.
Now, I know that she doesn’t actually expect to get them all, because my daughter actually does understand how money works, and she knows damn well that she doesn’t just get everything she wants, even if it IS books. But where the real problem, the real dilemma here, lies, is….how much DO I get? And which ones?
Okay, okay, I admit that I might be coming off as a little overly dramatic here. Mostly I’m just joking around, because I find it hysterical that she circled SO MANY books in the flyers. But I do, as a very literary person, find myself flipping back and forth between the pages, trying to decide exactly what to do with her choices. Do I set a budget and tell her she has to decide what she wants that fits within that? If so, what kind of budget do I set? Do I buy her a couple but also inform her that she can get more if she uses her Christmas/birthday money? Do I choose myself, deciding on the books that I think are best for her advancement? Basically, I’m asking for opinions! What would you do in this situation? Obviously it will come down to the two of us in the end, but I’m curious to know what other parents (or even non-parents) have to say! So let me know in the comments: how many/how much money/who decides/etc?
And feel free to laugh at me now for making these sound like a serious issue. ^_~