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The joy of book shopping with my kids


Being an author, I don’t suppose it will surprise you when I say that I read a lot of books. I probably read a minimum of two books a week. Naturally they can be of different lengths, but that’s going to be at least 150,000 words a week. Minimum.

Both of my daughters have picked up on my love of reading and they too devour books. I should note that my books are now mainly kindle-based as otherwise our house would fill up and I’d be forced to keep filling up the loft (we just don’t have space for them), or throw them/give them away (which I absolutely hate doing).

Our kids however, read hard-books. There’s enough technology in this house as it is and I believe that nothing beats the smell or feel of a ‘real’ book. Although I do wish they wouldn’t fold the corners!

This weekend I took my youngest to WH Smith’s because she had a £30 voucher from Christmas to spend there. Imagine our delight as we realised that they had a 3-4-2 offer on! My maths is, to be blunt, crap, so the thought of trying to add up all the books and then remove what I thought would be the ‘1’, and keep a running total as to how much was actually being spent caused me to sweat a tad. That and the fact I’ve put on a bit of weight since retiring from the martial arts.

But, and this is the point of this blog, buying books with my kids is great. I lean heavily towards fantasy, so I’m always trying to get them to buy the Spiderwick Chronicles, Lemony Snicket, that sort of thing. My eldest refuses to do so, just because I’m suggesting it I suspect, she loves Holly Smalle’s writing and that awful Tracy Beaker author (who I’ve banned her from reading as she’s only 10 and I don’t think it’s appropriate. Shock, horror, tell me how bad I am, I don’t bloody care).  But she also loves fantasy.

As an aside, when I try to get her to buy fantasy/sci-fi she always says no. But onetime, when I said ‘but you read the stories I make up for you’ she replied with “Yeah, but they’re AWESOME, really good.” Must say my Train to Chuffed Station ticket was well and truly punched!

Trumpet blowing aside, there are a number of reasons I love book shopping with them. The first is the discussions about which book to buy. I’ll often read the back cover in my ‘actor’ voice, making the book sound as exciting as possible. Followed by a whiny ‘please buy this’.

I love the look of excitement on their faces as they pull books off the shelf and look at the covers. My youngest always decides whether or not to buy a book by reading the first page. If the first page hooks her interest, it’s a sale. She’ll often read it out loud to me either with a “How cool is that?” or “They’re trying too hard” through to the harsh “Boring.” The look on her face as she does this is great. Maybe I should have a book review channel on YouTube recording her doing just that and offering an acceptance review on just the first page?

Another reason I love shopping with them is the look of indecision/utter horror when they realise that they’ve pulled a load of really interesting books off the shelf, but that they don’t have the budget for it. Which one do they put back? Which one do they keep? Do they have enough time to sit down and read one without having to buy it (no, and I don’t allow that sort of thing either)? Can daddy spring another £30 just to get all the books they want?

Once they’ve made their decision it’s then time to pile the books onto the counter and pay. This is usually a painful experience for me, but when they have their own money, I always have them hand it over and interact with the staff. It gets them used to the idea that nothing’s free and, if the staff member actually gives a toss about customer service and selling books, allows them to discuss what they’re buying with an adult other than me.

Usually when I’m in town with the kids (we call it daddy day), I’ll also take them for a bite to eat somewhere. This weekend I was with my youngest and we went to the Hubbox for dogs. Amazing. But, the book experience didn’t stop with handing the money over and shoving them into a bag. The book experience continued with a “what book are you going to read first?” discussion, where we went through and discussed options (we were missing book two from a series so book one wasn’t the first option. More on that in a mo.) and made our choices.

Choice made, we pulled them out then and there and spent a lovely ten minutes or so reading in companiable silence whilst waiting for our food. It was great. 

The only time that a shopping trip can be slightly marred is when we make the classic mistake of buying books that are similarly labelled (the Warriors stories). We bought book one of one series and three, four, five and six of the second series. D’oh. N00B mistake.

Needless to say, I’m going to have to buy one and two of the second series so that she can read them. I cant stand starting a series at a midpoint, and nor can she.

So, that’s why I find buying books with my kids so much fun. I’d love to hear why you love buying books with yours.

About mattsylvester

Father of two beautiful daughters and married to the beautiful Karen, Matthew has been reading and writing fantasy and science fiction since he first read the Hobbit at the age of 7. Matthew was Features Editor, Technical Consultant and regular columnist for magazines such as ‘Fighters’, ‘Combat’, ‘TKD & Korean Martial Arts’ and ‘Traditional Karate’. These are the four leading martial arts magazines in the United Kingdom. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed 'Practical Taekwondo: Back to the Roots', which has been sold around the world. With regard to his martial arts background he has been studying martial arts since 1991. In 1995 he hosted Professor Rick Clark of the ADK and since then has been studying pressure points and their uses in the martial arts and on the street (initially as a Special Constable and as a Door Supervisor). All of this practical hands-on experience means that he is uniquely placed to write fight scenes that are not only plausible but some of which are based on personal or anecdotal experience. Matthew has had a number of short stories published by Fringe Works, KnightWatch Press, Anderfam Press and Emby Press.

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