Southwest Book Review: Giving a Child the Gift of Reading

Dec 20, 2011

This fall, the writer Ann Patchett did something radical.  She opened a bookstore.  This goes against the trend. The indie bookstores are practically extinct. I miss Flagstaff’s old landmarks, McGaugh’s Newsstand on Aspen, Aradia Books just across the tracks.  I’m glad we’ve still got Starlight Books on Leroux.

I was thinking, if you want to buy your child a book for Christmas, what are the options?  The big chain bookstores?  I guess.  The internet?  Sure.  Download Where the Wild Things Are and hand your kid a Kindle. 

Call me retro, but I say there’s nothing like a glorious, glossy, picture book to inspire the joy of reading.  So I decided to take a walk in downtown Flagstaff and see what’s available. I found some treasures.

At Starlight I found Phoebe and Chubb by local author Matt Hall, the story of a friendship between a frog and a fish and their raucous adventure in the Grand Canyon. 

Then, just around the corner The Golden Aspen toy store displayed Shade, The Story of a Very Smart Raven by Sedona author Diane Phelps Budden.  An inspiring book about a real raven trained in search and rescue.

Winter, you know, is the season for coyote tales.  There’s a terrific new coyote book At Winter Sun on San Francisco: Coyote and the Sky:  How the Sun, Moon, and Stars Began by Emmett Garcia and illustrated by Victoria Pringle:  playful, magical illustrations of the Animal People as they traveled to our world, Coyote making trouble on the way.

I found another classic at West of the Moon on Aspen:  Alice Yazzie’s Year, fantastically illustrated by Flagstaff’s own Shonto Begay.

On Route 66, The Painted Desert Trading Company has an incredible selection.  There, I found Rascal, The Tassel-Eared Squirrel, by NAU biology professor Sylvester Allred, and Little Woman Warrior by Evangeline Parsons Yazzie.  This is a wonderful bilingual history book, perfect for kids aged 6 – 10, about a little warrior returning from Fort Sumner after the Navajos’ Long Walk south.

And there are more.  Many more.  Got a kid on your list this holiday season?  Take a walk downtown.  We may have fewer bookstores, but our local shops still sell books.  Happy reading to one and all.