Recently we painted my 8 year old’s room. When we moved his bookshelf back in, I took the opportunity to go through his books and do some purging. Both boys’ bookshelves were overflowing and it was time to clean house. He did a great job of deciding which books to keep and which ones to pass down to his little brother. He kept some picture books, but most of them went in the purge pile, leaving chapter books that are at his level and the classics we’ve started buying that are still a bit above his ability. The Dr. Seuss, Golden Books and other easy readers that are now way below his level all went in the pile. I watched the first book he read without help (The Berenstain Bears and the Big Road Race) get tossed into the pile. The Disney bedtime story books (we somehow have 3 of these) went, but the A Treasury of Curious George stayed. It was interesting seeing what he still wanted to hold onto, which books had meaning to him. And while he held on to Knuffle Bunny Free — the book we got when we saw Mo Willems — he gave Knuffle Bunny to his brother.
And of course in order for the purged books to be passed down to my younger son, we had to do some purging from his shelves. This was a harder task, both logistically and emotionally. The books we decided would go would head out the door to a garage sale and/or the library, so these were permanent decisions we were making. So when he decided to get rid of Goodnight Moon (the first children’s book we ever owned, it was a baby shower gift) and Guess How Much I Love You, those went into the Mommy pile. Most books I didn’t mind getting rid of; there were a few I was a bit sad to see go, a few I was happy to see go (whoever came up with books that make noise obviously is not a parent), and the few I couldn’t bear to let go. Goodnight Moon and Guess how Much I Love You definitely fall into that last group.
As for the logistical difficulties, he’s not reading yet, but he’s on the verge of doing so. He can sound out words, knows a few basic sight words, and doesn’t get frustrated when he can’t figure out a word. So books that may be deemed too young for him in content are perfect for him to use in learning to read. Sandra Boynton and Dr. Seuss board books (mini versions of the real books) fell into this category, as did most of the DK books we own. He quickly caught on to my attempts to hold on to some of my favorites a little longer and soon was convincing me that a book I might have tossed was a good “learn to read” book.
We now have a huge box of books to sell or donate and room for new books to come into the house, and the next big purge won’t happen for some time. So I’m curious – do you find it easy or difficult to get rid of your kids’ books? Leave a comment and tell me how you handle this aspect of watching your kids grow up!
Nancy thinks it’s not possible to have too many books, even if the bookshelves don’t agree. She writes about her 2 boys, books and life in Colorado at Life With My Boys and Books.