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“Thank you,” said the i-phone-clutching prospective customer, then moved on.

Near the end of Thursday’s stint as an Ottawa Byward Market author with no books sold, I crossed the street to ask the Crazy Moose souvenir shop to take some on consignment. The manager, a man of statistics, said no, reading was down 50% to 80% and, if it was true my booth had sold eight books in two stints 10 days apart, then that was the way to do it. I felt buoyed up and ready to fight. I had to stay put in the war between paper and digital to keep reading alive! 

On my own since my two selling buddies had left, I figured I would complete the day my way, relying on eye contact, not just waiting for a customer to appear.  Here’s what I did before I sold two books and was able to call my day a trumpian success, considering the state of our universe:

  • Stood tall inside my booth to be conspicuous
  • Smiled and relaxed
  • Got into the mood of happy shopping, sesquicentennial celebrating and traveling
  • Controled my grooving to the music rocking the square as I scanned the passing crowd for intelligent faces
  • Rejected those eating ice cream cones or $5 stuffed potato halves that might mess up my books
  • Skipped those preoccupied with their own devices
  • Trusted my eyes to focus on someone who was compatible in some way with me, my writing and my readers (real and imagined)
  • When my gaze was returned, I lifted my eyebrows cordially and tilted my head back a bit as an invitation to them to come over.

Fate ridiculed me by making me oblivious to a woman who sneaked up to look at one of my cookbooks I had left littering the other author’s table at my side. She didn’t have $15 so I lowered the price to $10 and the sale made us both happy.

Then I saw a bent-over, gray-haired woman purposefully propelling herself and her full bag with the aid of a deluxe cane towards her parked car. As she passed by I caught her eye.  She lifted her face to convey a respectful, smiling nod to literacy. I said boldly and clearly to her disappearing back, “I have a very good book for you” and she indicated she would return.

She asked me to tell her about my book and we quickly found common ground.  We both appreciated writing with carefully chosen words, criticism and looking at issues like the residential school tragedies from all sides. She complimented me on my New York Times newsprint dress and wondered if it also came in French. She translates English into French for the federal government.

By the time she bought the book and I signed it we were friends. She was Paule (pronounced “Pole”) and I was “Margo” (with a handwritten note giving the name of a chanteur who wrote a song by that title).

To me that was selling books at its best: two persons, strangers only seconds ago, making a pact to keep reading stuff on paper alive.

Happy Reading, Writing and Bookselling!

http://www.cozybookbasics.wordpress.com  www.amazon.com/author/margaretvirany

http://www.margaretvirany.com

pinocchiofizaGetting children to read classic books, even hilarious ones like Pinocchio, is not always easy but the stakes couldn’t be higher. They’re our best bet for ever achieving our dreams for self-realization, rebirth, peace, redemption and goodwill to all mankind. A good boy was what Geppetto was trying to carve out of his outrageously impossible, willful puppet. What classic books come to tell us is that the paradise-on-earth we dream of is never easy but can always happen. With more than ever readers, available books, gift-giving grandparents, creative teachers, informed parents and technological tools, we should be able to progress: – the Gutenberg Project offers free e-book versions of all books in print – you can download excerpts from movies of classics on devices; e.g. a mother I know used  Frozen (from a Hans Christen Andersen story) to organize a birthday party – a variety of audiovisual resources can be used in classrooms to stimulate interest pathanChampioning the cause is the beautiful, brave Fiza Pathan, a perceptive, passionate, young teacher and author who says she was “born to read”. She has just written How We Can Encourage Children to Read the Classics as a sequel to her bestseller, Why We Should Encourage Children to Read the Classics. An appendix and index tie her second book to her first for easy reference.She also portrays the poverty of her native Mumbia, India in a powerful novella about Nirmala the Mud Blossom, a tragic slum girl whose parents punish and beat her for reading After reading Pathan’s first book, I accepted her challenge of reading a classic a week. Luckily, I uploaded the original unabridged, illustrated version of my childhood favorite, Pinocchio. I was stunned to find out it’s about much more than your nose growing long if you lie. It is a nightmarish, heartrending, fantastical tale that veers in and out of life and death via sea monsters, evil deceivers, whippings, starvation, cold, burning, hanging and metamorphosis into a donkey’s body before the hero stops being other people’s puppet, realizes how much he loves his father (plus his conscience and good fairy) and how right they were. Chicago would have no gang and delinquency problems if all adults read this book to their children when young, and the child reread it in the unabridged version when older. Pathan’s two 100-page handbooks, based on her own experiences, should be bought by anyone who has anything to do with kids. The sequel contains tips, approaches, methods, book lists, quizzes, puzzles and insight to help you and yours get over the barriers that stand in the way of making reading the classics a habit you will love. Pathan spent hours in a school library in early childhood instead of with a babysitter. The librarian helped her select which books she wanted and they became her best friends. Today she is familiar with a huge number of books, continues to be an avid reader of contemporary as well as classic books and has acquired a sizable collection which she loans out to children. Some of the 10 pointers are for teachers and some for parents. Others apply in the classroom, library, group, one-to-one, home or other settings.

How to Use Pathan’s Handbooks to Encourage the Success of Children You Know

1. Find quotes to motivate yourself, remind yourself of the names and authors of time-honored books, refresh yourself on the difference between classics and other books and keep your mind clear about why this is important. 2. Have fun, educate and inform yourself by doing the puzzles and quizzes. 3. Be alert to small strategies, such as placing stacks of modern books and classics on different tables or corners of the room. 4. Develop the traits, patience, skills, persistence and loving approach you will need to successfully introduce a child to one, first classic you sense will suit them. 5. Use your imagination and resourcefulness to adapt and expand on Pathan’s advice with your own ideas. 6. Assess her observations that by reading classics a student gains descriptive powers, logical thinking, scientific skills, knowledge of history, philosophy, morals, better all-round performance, creative skills, compassion and empathy. 7. (Teachers) Try out her basic, direct classroom methods of showing a movie first, reading snippets in class, doing quizzes and having the students read a classic as a study-room or exam-writing break. Different children learn in different ways. 8. (Teachers) Also use her indirect classroom techniques such as PowerPoints, having the children make charts and do research, giving them roles to act out the books as plays. Teacher or parent can prepare and give a talk on the importance of reading the classics. 9.(Parents) She describes how she works with parents in her private tutoring classes and book club for children and wants to do more. Reading stories (abridged classics) out loud to young children is basic. Reading books conspicuously in front of older children sets an example and arouses curiosity. 10. Support school initiatives such as rapid reading, holiday reading, using excerpts from classics in comprehension classes, creating school libraries and classroom bookshelves. If your school has ‘value education’ or ‘moral science education’ classes, as in India, material from the classics could be part of the resources. Fiza Pathan has taken on a huge task. To help her campaign snowball or to buy her books, contact her at www.insaneowl.com, or www.amazon.com/author/fizapathan. If you have comments or ideas to share, I’d be delighted to get them and pass them on. Thank you for dropping by. This blog for all lovers of life and language aims to be useful and entertain. Topics vary from how to build a canoe to how my mom moved from “prince to preacher and fog to bog” as a war bride after world war one. We pass on writing advice by word and example. Find out more about A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void, Kathleen’s Cariole Ride and Eating at Church  by clicking here.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!

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