Book collectors are special breed, unwilling to surrender any volume filled with words between two covers. We have addressed the topic of book inundation in previous blogs. Today we turn our sites to a particular book category that for some holds a status higher than either the Bible or encyclopaedias. By this, we mean books that belong or belonged to your children.
No one in her right mind would question the profound importance of exposing children to the pleasures and benefits of reading. New parents get showered with gift books that form cherished memories for their youngsters of being read to or learning to read. Compared with life-sized stuffed animal replicas, video games and noisy battery-operated toys, kids’ books seem positively benign. But from a CRUD fighting standpoint, those Nancy Drews and Curious Georges can be formidable adversaries. We elaborate.
While some children do become attached to their childhood libraries, it is invariably the parents who insist that the storybooks stay on way beyond the early years. Many mothers we have worked with claim to be saving not only their children’s but their own beloved children’s books for future grandchildren. It makes sense to us to preserve a few classics or favorites for posterity, but not in the quantities that we witness. Children’s books encompass a prodigious range of subjects and formats containing coloring books, puzzle and game books, comics, reference books, anthologies, picture books, and illustrated stories. The very same parents who refuse to relinquish even a single volume are the ones who most likely to complain that they are space challenged. The books remain unread on their bookshelves long after the children have moved on to university and beyond, happily starting their adult lives minus the excess baggage.
If even the mere suggestion of turfing childhood possessions is enough to bring on a case of hives, then it may be prudent to whip out your EpiPen before embarking on this exercise. You will have to judge each volume on its merits. Condition matters. Are the pages covered with food stains and grimy finger marks? If your children are still at home is the reading level and subject matter still appropriate for their age and interests? It is a good idea to have them participate in the selection process allowing them to decide which volumes in their collections should be donated to charities or younger relatives. If they have already moved out, the decisions are likely to be all yours. Like so many other souvenirs from growing up, once they are gone, they will be forgotten. If you have raised a reader in the process, rejoice.