November 18, 2008
A Book for Everything
My son and I take a trip to our neighborhood branch of the Oakland Public Library every three weeks or so to load up on new books, since we read several a day and we've long since blown through my large collection of children's titles. I always look for books that correspond with his admittedly eclectic interests, and I have been completely surprised by how successful I've been at finding just the thing.
For example, several months back Harper developed a real affinity for signs. Traffic signs, construction signs, signs in the airport, signs identifying elevators and public restrooms. Our time in the car, on the bike, and with the stroller became a never-ending barrage of questions about signage: "What that sign is? What does it mean?" The next time we were at the library, I typed "traffic signs" into the online catalog on a whim and in the hopes of getting a break from identifying every sign we encountered. Lo and behold:
When the Whole Foods Market opened in Oakland, Harper was very excited. He could care less about a pretty, well organized store with a great cheese counter, quality deli, fresh juice bar, or café with free WiFi. No, the real reason for going to Whole Foods is the elevator that takes customers from the rooftop parking lot to the store at street level. Likewise, when we went to Portland last summer, he was ambivalent about the great zoo, children's museum and parks--he would have been content to stay in the hotel and ride the elevator up and down four floors all week. The mission of our next trip to the library was to find a book about elevators. Eureka:
Harper's newest obsession is Roman numerals. This definitely makes him an odd duck in the 2-and-a-half-year-old crowd, but he mastered the alphabet and numbers long ago, and when he saw Roman numeral chapter headings in a book we were reading at bedtime, he wanted to know what they meant. We explained, and then all he wanted to do was find the Roman numerals in the book every night. He started laying out his magnetic alphabet not in words, but in Roman numeral-like sequences, and asking us to translate. Yesterday at the library, we were browsing the shelves, not looking for anything in particular. I ended up in the single-subject area of the children's section, at the shelf with books about numbers and basic math. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this:
Whether the credit goes to the breadth of the children's publishing industry or the collections of the Oakland Public Library, I say hooray for books!