“You are not good B&B people!”

“Yeah, well, that’s because we hate B&B’s!”

– from David O. Russell’s Flirting with Disaster

My sons — 9-year-old S and 4-year-old F — love books. They love reading them and being read to. They recite details from books I didn’t even know they were aware of. They create their own stories, on paper and in their streams-of-consciousness patter, and they come up with the illustrations to boot. They inspire my own writing — both my writing of individual pieces and my pursuit of this vocation as a whole. They are my first and biggest fans, with soft spots in their hearts for aged manuscripts that editors have remained unaccountably immune to.

So, I’ll say it again: They love books. They are book people. They are not, however, book festival people.

Maybe, as kids go, they are normal in this respect. Maybe children who enjoy spending a day or even a morning hearing grown-ups talk about books are the exceptions. I have a hunch that my sons’ main distinction with regard to book festivals is that their dad has a vested interest in attending them. It sure would be convenient for me if S and F were captivated by them, too. But they aren’t.

I’ve known this for a while. It was reinforced for me yesterday at the inaugural Hill Country Book Festival — not in any sort of can’t-show-our-faces-in-that-county-again sort of way, but clearly enough that even I picked up on it.

I’d been looking forward to the festival, and presentations by several of my local friends, for months. Part of me was tempted to insist that my guys tough it out. But that wasn’t going to foster a greater appreciation of books (or of me) in anybody, so we left after an hour.

I had a backup plan, almost as if I suspected how the festival would go over with S and F. We drove down the road a bit to a playscape of some renown. Chasing ensued. Those who hid were sought. We all bonked our heads squeezing through the passageways. My sons had a great time, and so did I.

On our way back to the car, S asked me what my favorite activity is. I couldn’t answer with any one thing that always makes me happier than any other thing I could be doing. But he had no trouble coming up with an answer for himself: curling up with a David Macaulay book. F chimed in that his favorite activity is being read to.

Next time you don’t see them at a book festival, I think you’ll have a good shot at guessing what they’re doing instead.