Mamas, do let your babies grow up to be readers.
Please let 'em write essays and read some great books . . .
Mother's Day is a bookseller's dream, as well as an absolute field day for greeting card sales. I flew my initial solo bookseller POS flight one week before Mother's Day in 1992, assuming full control of a cash register without a co-pilot for the first time. My UPC scanning and monitor watching skills were put to the ultimate test:
I think you rang that card in twice!
How can this card be $5?
I love your cards!
I think some of your cards are in very bad taste.
Don't you have Mother's Day cards for stay-at-home dads?
Okay, I made the last one up, but I emerged from the experience a better cashier with a new appreciation for this particular holiday. As a bookseller--and as a son, of course--I'm still a believer, in part because mothers play such a critical role in the development of children's reading lives, or lack thereof. And while it's easy as apple pie to criticize the commercialization of Mother's Day, bookstores still offer the best ways to acknowledge moms as parents, teachers and readers.
"I love my mama who, like many moms, is not interested in the traditional Mother's Day fare," advises Heather Gain in the e-newsletter from Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, Mass. "Frankly, she wouldn't be impressed by a box of calorie-laden chocolates and a bouquet of soon-to-wilt carnations. Instead (spoiler alert, Mom!), I'm planning on giving her--you guessed it--the long-lasting and feel-good gift o' books."
In its special Mother's Day e-newsletter, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, Vt., highlights a "Green Moms" promotion, suggesting that, for "mothers especially looking for ways to help preserve the environment for future generations, Northshire has a sustainability section that includes books, home-cleaning kits, and recycled, reusable bags and accessories."
One of my favorite bits of advice comes from University Book Store, Seattle, Wash., whose website sagely advises, "Make a fuss over mom . . . You know how mom always says: 'Oh, honey. You don't have to make a fuss over me for Mother's Day. . . . ' Well, she's lying."
"Mothers, mothers, mothers," Paul Theriault exclaims in the b-mail newsletter from Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, Mass. "I'm a father now, and now Mother's Day has taken on a whole new meaning. It means something like 'ignore at your own peril.' While the Booksmith can't serve up breakfast in bed and a foot massage, we've certainly got something for your moms, who nevertheless deserve soooo much more. Come on in to the store and you'll stumble right into the display up front overflowing with gift ideas . . . Or just grab one of us, that's what we're here for!"
Laura Ponticello of Creekside Books, Skaneateles, N.Y., offers a book list that "pays tribute to women who positively influence others through acts of kindness or words of wisdom. All of these women face moments of self-doubt. For some women it comes naturally to care for children with a compassionate heart, while other women struggle to emerge from self-imposed perceptions, and lastly some of us serve best by following our passions that potentially inspire others with hope."
There is a moving post at the staff blog for Nomad Bookhouse, Jackson, Mich., that includes the following testimony to the power of maternal storytelling: "For anyone that rallies claims that fiction is pure fantasy or lacks opportunity for application in our lives . . . well, they don't read fiction. This book [The Rest of Her Life by Laura Moriarty] has taken me to a place that I had neither expected nor found anywhere else in recent years. I respect my mom more tonight for having read fiction. I want to live more fully with my daughter tonight for having read fiction."
And if you're one of the unlucky children whose mother "gets under your skin," don't despair. Head north immediately and you may still find the perfect gift, since "Indigo and Chapters bookstores are recalling 10,000 Mother's Day tote bags after tests revealed they could cause skin irritation," according to the Ottawa Citizen.
Oh, oh. There's that cynic again. Sorry, Mom.