By Dennis Abrams
In 2007, Francine Lucidon opened her award winning Larchmont, New York bookstore, The Voracious Reader. The store has since become a community hub, primarily for babies through teens, with choice adult selections as well. Hosting a large number of events each month, The Voracious Reader eschews a pedagogical approach to books and learning. Instead, Lucidon hopes to connect parents, children and books in an atmosphere of fun and innate curiosity.
For Lucidon, the beauty of owning an independent bookstore in a bedroom community of professionals with high expectations for their children is that she’s not obligated to look at marketing, or at numbers or at what’s hot, “It’s all one-on-one. My customers are not a trend.” But, that being said, “I do see a few things going in a certain direction for reasons I can only guess at. Kids are really up against time. Carefree childhoods are nonexistent. It’s all preparation for the next step, so one of the things I’m seeing is that these kids don’t have the time for the big series. When they get to the teen books, they want slam-dunk stories, books like Code Name Verity and Never Fall Down. The big focus is on survival, whether it’s post-apocalyptic or dystopian or the forging of personal identity, like David Levithan’s Every Day.”
And it’s at bookstores like The Voracious Reader, Lucidon believes, that a love of reading can be forged. “I see our role as a place that encourages kids to get off the hamster wheel and connect with the books, as a place for families and kids to connect together and to help create a rich and necessary inner life that is easy to ignore when Ivy League goals and AP courses and high test scores are all that seems to matter.” And not just a place to encourage readers, but to actively mold them as well. “People read what I tell them to. That’s why they’re coming here. You don’t go to a nutritionist and tell them what you want to eat — you go to one to learn what you should eat. And that’s what I do.”