Monday, August 31, 2009

What about Book Orders?

I love to read more than just about anything. I love the smell of new books. I adore book stores: the lay-out, the semi-quiet, the crisp new pages in thousands of books, the idea that people will be reading book son every subject, that the store wants me to stay in there forever and that I'd like to as well.

Which makes this is an uncomfortable topic for me. Is owning books needful? Will something else suffice?

I'm conflicted on this point. My personal middle ground is to patronize our public library on a regular basis, and to only buy the books that my monthly book club is reading. I host the book club, and choose my favorite books fairly regularly. Book I will read time and again, books which I find personal meaning in.

With the start of school, also came the start of the book order. Book orders don't give me quite the same flood of senses that a book store does. But...

I love paperback books. They're cheap. My kids love to read books. We read their books tens and hundreds of times. We're on our fifth hard cover copy of Where the Wild Things Are, because we've loved that book to death four times already. We take books on our road trips, and in the bike trailer on the way to school. We read cuddled on our bean bag chair, our couch, the floor, outside, on our beds.

A study I read about in Freakonomics found that the only factor in a child's education testing levels was the presence of books the household owned. Not checked out from the library, but owned. Not read, but owned.

Because I love to read, I inherently want that for my children. I get giddy when they request for me to read to them. I glow when I discover them reading (or "reading") to themselves. Seeing them read just makes me happy.

And them having a book order to circle the books they want is like me going into a book store. They can choose. So many beautiful options. Nothing's been loved or abused by somebody else yet. All the books are appropriate for them. And, since we're not in a store and there is no instant gratification, the final decision is up to me with no possibility of impulse buying or tantrums or arguing.

I went through our book basket earlier today and pulled out some books to send to a friend several months younger than my daughter. I think my compromise (at least for today) is to replace books, rather than accumulate them.

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