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What’s a Favorite Book of Yours?

Late­ly I’ve been ask­ing groups about their favorite books — as a get-to-know-you activ­i­ty of sorts. You know: “My name is Melanie…and one of my favorite books is Anne of Green Gables.” That sort of thing.

I’ve asked groups that include chil­dren and groups with only adults. (I ask groups of kids this a lot — great mar­ket­ing research.) Before I throw this ques­tion out, I know that the group mem­bers are gen­er­al­ly read­ers (I don’t want any­one to pan­ic at the ques­tion), and I’m care­ful to say a favorite book, not the favorite book. I don’t spec­i­fy “favorite book from child­hood” or “favorite book from the last year” etc.

That last part is impor­tant, because what is fas­ci­nat­ing to me is that most adults — even those who I know read three tomes last week — answer with a favorite book from child­hood, not what they read last week.

Trix­ie Belden…” they say, nos­tal­gia in their eyes. Heads nod.

And all those mys­ter­ies — Nan­cy Drew, The Hardy Boys, The Bobb­sey Twins….”

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Win­nie-the-Pooh—my moth­er read it to us after lunch every day!”

Mine did, too!” 

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D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths—my copy was held togeth­er with a rubberband.”

Have you read Rick Riordan’s Greek Myth series? My grand­son gave it to me and they are so fun!”

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The Ramona books — I loved them when I was kid, loved them when I read them with my kids, love read­ing them with the grandkids!”

What was the one with the dog? I think Ramona was in that, too… And some kid named Harry?”

No, Hen­ry. Hen­ry Huggins — “

The dog was Rib­sy, right?”

Rib­sy! I loved Rib­sy. My sec­ond grade teacher read us Rib­sy.”

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Every­one is smil­ing and laugh­ing and remem­ber­ing. There are worse ways to meet peo­ple, to intro­duce yourself.

Three things are inter­est­ing to me about these exchanges — besides the fact that most adults list a book they read decades ago as a “favorite.”

  1. Many of the same titles are repeat­ed — in dif­fer­ent groups — there’s a sort of Canon of Favorites. (Except for one — some­one said they devoured five copies of The Lit­tle Boy From Shick­shin­ny by Frank Anders and Eileen Daly. None of us had heard of that one. Have you?
  2. Most talk about some­one read­ing it with them. Read­ing with kids — can’t beat it!
  3. The con­ver­sa­tions after these intro­duc­tions are rich — peo­ple con­tin­ue list­ing favorites on break, com­par­ing mem­o­ries on the way out the door, strug­gling to remem­ber the title of a favorite book every­one in the 1950s read etc. Books cre­ate con­ver­sa­tion and relationships.

Try it! Ask about favorite books the next time you’re in charge of get­ting a group to know one anoth­er. Or even a group who already knows each oth­er well. I asked the ques­tion in one such group and we reached a whole new lev­el of friendship!

What’s a favorite book of yours?

 

 

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David LaRochelle
4 years ago

The Twen­ty-One Bal­loons” by William Pene Du Bois. In 5th grade my best friend Ricky and I built a mod­el of the bal­loon raft for a book project.

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