A number of people have asked me why I started this website. I have an undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering and a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering. I co-own a software company, FabTime, that works with computer chip manufacturers to improve their manufacturing cycle time. I've never worked in a library or for a bookstore or for a school (except as a volunteer), and I don't have children (though I do have four lovely nieces who live near Boston).
All I can say is that for my entire life I've loved children's books. I was the child reading in the corner, or up in a tree, or even on the roof. I was the kid who couldn't possibly go on a 20 minute car ride to Grandma's house without something to read. I remember riding my bicycle to the public library in the rain. To this day, I can tell you which authors were located on which shelf in my elementary school library (and I am not ordinarily someone with a good memory). Books opened up new worlds to me, and I never tired of them.
As I grew older, I was unable to let go of children's books. During college and graduate school I would read children's books sometimes for a study break. When I went home during the holidays, I would revisit old favorites from my bookshelves at home. When I would visit used bookstores and see old favorites on the shelf, I would be powerless to resist. I was fascinated by vintage children's books, and started collecting older books from certain authors (The Maida Books, The Enid Blyton Books, The Oz Books, etc.). And so my love affair with children's books continued.
When my friends and relatives started having children, I naturally bought these children books. I still remember giving books at a cousin's baby shower for her second child about 10 years ago. My cousin told me that I was the only person who had given them books, and how pleased her older child was. When they were little I sent my nieces books by mail every month. I LOVE to buy books for children. I like to keep up on what books are available, so that I can make good choices. It pleases me when friends tell me that this or that book that I gave to their children is still a favorite.
I also read to children on every possible occasion - to my nieces, to my friends' children, to children I meet at parties at friends' houses. I can't tell you how thrilled I am when Andrew or Amy or Charlie or Gracie comes running up to me with a book to read. This happens often, because children are pretty sharp - they know a soft touch when they one. But the truth is that it makes me unbelievably happy when the children in my life are interested in books. Perhaps because I feel that I'm finally finding companions for that long-ago child, sitting up in a tree by herself with a book.
Recently I have been reading some non-fiction books (Never Eat Alone, The Accidental Millionaire, Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading : Finding and Losing Myself in Books, The Read-Aloud Handbook) that have me reflecting on what I'm passionate about, and what's important to me. And the answer has been very clear. It's important to me that the children in my world grow up with at least the opportunity to love books. If I were to get to the end of my life and look back, and know that I had contributed to children growing up to love books, I would feel that I had accomplished something valuable. I think that children who love to read grow up with better vocabularies, and the ability to read more quickly, and that they do better in school, and have more opportunities in life. But I think it's even more fundamental than that for me. I think that I just loved reading SO MUCH as a child that I want to give that gift to other people. And it's tough to grow up loving books if you don't start very young.
That is why I've started this website. This site is for anyone who has an interest in raising children who love books. It is for librarians and teachers, and parents and aunts and uncles and grandparents. And it's for people like me, who believe that the world will be a better place if more children grow up with the opportunity to love books. I hope to provide encouragement and education, a sense of community, and of course book ideas. I welcome your feedback. Thanks for reading! -- Jen
© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.