Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sunday Salon: Weeding through the books

I just entered a contest to win an autographed children's book thanks to this post about the talented illustrator. And the second I sent my comment in to enter the contest, I remembered that I was just recently thinking of going through the myriads of picture books we have here and weeding them out. Yet I had just entered a contest for another one. My two oldest children are past picture books both in terms of reading ability and interest. My youngest still has an interest but is far beyond most of them in reading ability. So, I asked myself, why still have so many? And sending books along to my niece and nephews (all still small) would free up some much needed bookshelf space here in the land of the overbooked.

But what to pass along? I can't send my childrens' favorites from babyhood. And I can't send the books I acquired as a lowly college intern at Peachtree Publishers long before I ever had kids. I definitely won't be sending my copy of the first book I ever learned to read. Nor will I be sending the books that still tickle my funny bone or make me smile. I can't send the books that have lovely memories attached to them. And I won't send the Caldecott winners from the years of my childrens' births. Those, along with the Newbery (and Printz winner for the youngest who arrived after the debut of that award) and the Pulitzer for that year, were my very special welcome to the world gift from mama to each of my children. So they can't go.

What am I left with to weed out of the overstuffed shelves? Two books. Or maybe one. But wait, I think that one has an inscription to one of the kids from his/her first grade teacher. That can't go can it? I'm not doing very well with this weeding things out thing. And I have no more wall space to line with shelves. Maybe I'll weed through the learn to read books instead. They have far fewer memories attached to them and it's a rare early reader book that has a decent story. I think we have a full shelf of these too. So maybe I'll actually get to reclaim a whole shelf--although if I win the contest for the picture book, it'll probably have to be on that shelf too since the other picture book shelves are crammed full already. Awwwww. What's a book lover to do?!


  1. I used to lecture in Children's Literature and when the time came to pack up my office and decide what was coming home and what was going to have to go to the charity shop I found that all the picture books were completely indispensable. Novels come and go, but an insightful picture book goes on forever. You may think your children are too old for them but believe me they will grow back into them as time goes by. My own most prized possession is a copy of Anthony Browne's 'Gorilla' in which he drew a gorilla for me. I will take that to my grave!

  2. I can dribble those paperback learn to read books anywhere and everywhere but a good hardcover picture book with the right illustrations? Nope. No way. Of course, my bookshelves are pulling away from the wall from the weight and I have resorted to the old stacks of books and planks along my bedroom walls so I am the last person to comment!

  3. Our first is only 18 months so we won't be tossing our books anytime soon but i think we'll have the same question when it comes time. Each book we have for our adult selves or for our son has special meaning and I just don't think they'll ever outgrow our shelves!

  4. Give them away today. You will be happy you did. In fact, you will never notice they are gone.

    I could not bear to part with any of my children's books. I have no idea how many boxes of children's books sit in my attic, rotting, serving as roach food.

    I should have given them away when I had the will.

  5. After reading many posts like this, I've come to realize that I am more of a story lover than a book lover. Once I read the story and get the enjoyment out of it, I don't have much trouble getting rid of the book. The only exception is if the book is inscribed. I've heard one too many stories about someone inscribing a book "With love to Aunt Fanny" and then running across it years later in a thrift store!


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