Stephanie Carson, a Sandringham mother of two, said she believes she has bought more than 50 books since the start of the first lockdown in order to keep her young boys entertained.
“We always read before bed and what’s been really good is my husband also reads to them,” she said.
Bestselling books during lockdown
- Bluey: Easter Fun!
- Bluey: Big Backyard
- Bluey: Bob Bilby
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
- Bluey: Time to Play!
- Grown Ups by Marian Keyes
Source: Nielsen BookScan. Data for March 15 to May 9.
“It takes you to another world. Especially now, facing lockdown number two, it’s just being able to have some perspective and think about things in the world other than coronavirus and the park being closed.”
Joyce Watts, a parenting blogger from Melbourne’s inner-west, said she has been buying more books than usual to compensate for local libraries being closed. Her two children, aged seven and nine, have been “ripping through them”.
“We have so many books it’s not funny,” she said. “I think parents are quite frankly throwing anything and everything they can at the situation.
“And that means more books, an increased investment in arts and crafts materials, searching for things to do online and programs that will supervise their kids so they can do half an hour of work or just have a break.”
Mark Rubbo, the managing director of independent book chain Readings, said he had definitely noticed customers splurging on children’s books “across the board”.
Kate Mayor, the category manager for Dymocks, said children’s fiction sales increased by about 10 per cent during the onset of the pandemic. She added that in the crafts section, origami books and paper were “running out the door”.
“We also saw a resurgence of adult colouring books, which was a craze that had its peak in 2015,” she said. “But the most significant sales jump we saw during lockdown was, hands down, puzzles and games.”
While many Melburnians have been stocking up on books at their local bookshop, others have been using the second lockdown to dip into their existing pile.
Wayne Murphy, a cartographer from Melbourne’s western suburbs, said he and his seven-year-old daughter, Alexandra, have been building cardboard toys thanks to an activity book they got before lockdown began. So far the pair have turned cardboard boxes into a pizza oven, a puppet theatre and a small camera.
“We’re trying our best to do things that are crafty or literary rather than just allowing ourselves to succumb to the TV or tablet,” he said. “[Alexandra] is already working out what our next project will be.”
As for those unable to buy new books some libraries, such as those within the City of Yarra, plan to deliver bulk items to people’s homes in the coming weeks.
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Broede Carmody is a culture reporter at The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald