How do you choose which book to read next?
Many people chase after their favorite authors. Others rely on friends for recommendations. Some listen to what titles are getting the most media buzz. And some people, like myself, do a combination of all those...but I also LOVE to browse the new books shelves and see what jumps out at me.
Of course, graphic artists know that an exceptional book cover is always one of the best ways to grab a reader's attention. A striking image is sometimes enough to make someone pick up a book. The title is important, too. You would not believe how much thought goes into the title of a book. Many authors have been surprised to find the publisher changed their title at the last minute in the hope of increased sales. One part of the new book browsing ritual that tends to work for me is to read the first few lines of a book, just to see if it intrigues me. Just like the cover graphic and the title, the first line or two can make or break a potential reader's impression of the book.
"Call me Ishmael," has long been considered an iconic first line, from Herman Melville's epic novel, Moby Dick. Charles Dickens started his famous Tale of Two Cities with, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." Alice Walker started The Color Purple with "You better not never tell nobody but God." And the first Harry Potter book began with, "Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much."
It doesn't always work, but you can very often get a feel for a book by simply reading those beginning few lines. It's all about first impressions and it allows the author the chance to grab you from the get-go.
Now, indulge me as I try to draw a correlation between using first impressions of a book to fostering a child's love of reading by making sure they have a good first impression about literature in their lives. How a parent or mentor exposes a youngster to the wonders of the library and the joy of books can shape their world in a magnificent way. If a child's first introduction to literature is a negative one, chances are books will not be something important in their lives. But if "the first few lines" of a child's exposure to books are enticing, exciting and interesting, you might just have a lifetime reader on your hands.
My parents provided an excellent example for me. In addition to being sure they took me to the library on a regular basis when I was young, they also showed me by example what it was like to be a reader. My mom was a voracious consumer of literature and always had a stack of library books on the end table by her recliner. She loved a good story and once she found an author she liked, she would read every book that person wrote.
My father preferred historical non-fiction...civil war, U.S. history, epic stories of world leaders, etc...and he supplemented those with his never-ending subscription to National Geographic. My five brothers and I knew that we could always cut up any magazine in the house...EXCEPT National Geographic. That was the holy grail of publications in our home.
Now, back to how to pick out your next book! If all of the above fails, there is still one sure-fired way to find a great book that we have not mentioned. Ask your friendly, neighborhood librarian! That's what we are here for and we are confident we can help you become a happy, satisfied reader.