In general, I do a pretty good job getting rid of things. I don’t have closets full of clothes that I don’t wear. Unlike my husband (sorry, honey), I don’t have boxes full of random VHS tapes that I couldn’t watch again even if I wanted to. I appreciate being streamlined.
But here’s what I’m not good at getting rid of: books. And neither is anyone else around here. I truly believe that if a book is worth reading once, it’s worth reading again. Matt reads non-fiction so his books are good for reference.
The one who’s exceeding his shelf space, however, is John. He has a big bookcase in his room and two shelves in his closet and they’re all full. There are stacks on the ground now. All of his books are still with us. Favorite board books are here. Learning to count books are here. Learning to read books are here. Dr. Seuss is still here. All the pictures books are here. First chapter books are here. His cup is seriously runnething over in this area.
In an effort to be responsible, I suggested to John that it might be a good idea to give some of these books to babies we know, or to kids who may not have very many books. He looked at me like I had suggested we chop off his left leg. “But what if I want to READ them? What if MY CHILDREN someday want to read them?”
How are you going to respond to that? If you’re me, you buy that kid an ice cream cone and move on to plan B.
Plan B involves a reading project that we have underway on the weekends. We take out the books that are no longer in heavy rotation, read them one more time, and put them in a box. When there’s something special about the books we put in, we’re including a note inside that will remind us later. “Blair gave this book to John when he turned one,” for example. Or, “This was the first book we ever read about dinosaurs.”
These boxes (so far there are two, but there will be more) will definitely not be given away, but instead will be stored for future use. Future use could involve reading One Fish, Two Fish in a week, or it could involve reading it to John’s potential children or grandchildren in 30 or 60 years.
For me, this is an exercise in bittersweet. The hours I’ve spent with John on my lap and a book in our hands are some of my favorite of his life, and of mine. Now he hardly fits — long arms and legs akimbo. It’s hard to say goodbye to those teeny tiny days, even when you’re happy about the road forward. Fortunately, our boxes of memories (obnoxiously heavy and fully documented) will be right nearby.