After reading a New Yorker article that questions the dwindling presence of bookstores, I began to reminisce on my childhood bookstore. I begged my mother every day to take me to the bookstore. Buying a book was much more satisfying to me than checking a book out at my school library—I got to keep the treasured story on my bedside table instead of returning it to the librarian and had the ability to reread the intriguing plotline whenever I wanted.
Upon entering my bookstore, I entered a haven—a comforting atmosphere surrounded by thrilling tales of adventure that captivated my adolescent minds. The employees greeted me with welcoming smiles, and I bee-lined for the children’s section, selecting as many books that I could fit in my arms, plopping down in the middle of the bookshelves on the carpeted floor, spreading out the books, admiring the eye-catching covers. The fresh stories dawned beautiful pictures on crisp pages; I buried my nose into the binding to inhale that fresh new bookstore smell (everyone knows and loves that smell—there’s no denying it). I had an allegiance to my bookstore—feeling guilty if I visited another location to buy a book. The New Yorker article states, “Those of us who cherish our local bookstores do so not simply because they are convenient—how great to be able to run out for milk and also pick up the new Karl Ove Knausgaard!—but also because we feel a duty to support them, because we believe in their mission.” It was about more than just the book—it was about the whole experience. The bookstore fostered my love for literature at an early age. The nurturing environment encouraged reading, which made me feel comfortable among the books. From there I jumped into stories that kept me interested in books. From E.B. White to Judy Blume to J.K. Rowling—my passion for literature grew with each visit.
Today’s diminishing presence of bookstores makes me nervous. My childhood bookstore went out of business eight years ago. The vacant building broadcasts a dusty “For Rent” sign collecting dust on the milky, dirty windowpanes. The market for books is changing. The rise of the Internet and online shopping carves a convenient path for delivering books directly to my front door. But where is the experience in that? The bookstore environment encourages a love for the text, for the characters, for the author. The experience is irreplaceable—strolling through the shelves, observing colorful book covers, searching for the desired author. It’s lugging an armful of books to the counter. It’s carrying a new story out of the store. It’s bending the corners of pages. It’s inhaling the unique smell. The welcoming atmosphere encourages reading; the bookstores foster a love for literature within the minds of children.
I believe in the mission of bookstores. I believe in creating a pleasant domain where children feel comfortable diving into a book, expanding their imaginations through exciting plotlines. I believe in promoting the importance of children’s literature, for it stands as the platform from which children cultivate a greater love for reading, expanding their palate through adult literature that spans from different centuries and continents. Instilling a love for literature at an early age fosters a lifelong love for it within our children. Despite society’s technological advances in the book world, there is still a need for bookstores.
Where do you stand? What cultivated your love for literature? What happened to your childhood bookstore?