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Too many choices?

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There always seems to be some concern about whether children are reading enough and recent news stories are saying that kids today are too distracted or too busy to read. Before you point your finger at the Internet as the culprit a new report from Scholastic says that despite the abundance of information, “half of all children think there are not enough ‘really good books’ from which to choose.”

Maybe the problem is that kids these days have too many choices.

One of my favorite summertime memories from growing up was visiting the bookmobile that used to roll into our Madison, Wisc., neighborhood midweek. I’d head down there with my mom and a canvas bag slung over my shoulder. The only restriction: I had to be able to carry what I wanted to take home. For me it wasn’t just about finding new books. It was the experience of squeezing into a narrow trailer that smelled of old paper and hunting through the stacks to choose my own titles. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t find something I liked. Every book offered the potential of a new adventure.

Some of the books that got carried home in my tote on a regular basis were Marjorie Weinman Sharmat’s “Nate the Great” detective stories. And it seems that puzzling through life is still very much part of being a kid, judging by Yvonne Zipp’s review of four new books about boys and girls who solve mysteries.

The bookmobile that serviced my neighborhood is still rolling along. But there is one mystery that still troubles me today: Why aren't there more of them?

Marjorie Kehe is on vacation this week.


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