Friday, April 4, 2014

Bookworms on trains

When we travel on public transit, people frequently comment on my kids' reading.  They seem somewhat amazed, and charmed.  Today, a man commented, "It's so nice to see well-behaved children for a change!" and various other passengers happily agreed, "yes, you don't see that too often!"  I remember in Atlanta one time, a woman was so taken with Isa's absorption in a novel, she gave Isa a dollar.  I didn't even know how to explain this to Isa afterwards.

While I'm flattered, I don't really understand the sentiment.  First of all, reading does not equal good behavior.  Reading is a hobby, a lovely and quiet one, but it is not the same as being respectful, generous, obedient, etc.  Second of all, when did children reading become such a rarity?  Is it just the milieu (the public-transit-riding community) or is this a universal phenomenon?  I hardly go anywhere without a book.  My kids have been raised the same way.  We don't do it because we are trying to be virtuous.  We do it because we like to read, and we get restless without something to focus our minds on.  We are way better at immersing ourselves in text, than we are at letting our minds wander, or just being in the present moment.

I have a feeling that when we get back to Philadelphia, they will find more like-minded peers.  For now, they are weird (but in a crowd-pleasing sort of way).  I'll accept the attention (and get back to my book).


  1. Portland is a book-loving community and we love to see kids reading. Be sure to visit Powells (12th & Burnside) and Central Library (SW10th & Yamhill) while you're here. Last month there was a huge literary festival called Wordstock at the convention center. Very cool!
    Saw last night's Totem show --- loved it! And I was delighted when the giant plexi cone was wheeled on stage because, from reading your blog, I knew we'd be seeing Greg juggle. Bet this is the first city where you've shared your site with a car swap meet!

  2. Thanks for your post! We visited both the Central Library and Powell's in our first few days here, and continue to make regular stops. They're both spectacular. Glad you enjoyed Totem, and yes, that swap meet was a madhouse!

  3. We were taught to bring a book with us when we left the house. It has saved me many times.