You know the drill. Your child asks for a story, you dutifully traipse into his or her room to get a book. But when you pull it off the shelf, what happens? A veritable avalanche. Sandra Boynton, Dr. Seuss, and The Complete Peter Rabbit come tumbling down in an epic crash.
If it’s one of those rare days when sleep deprivation hasn’t reduced your reaction time, you might actually manage to jump out of the way before getting brained. (Yes, I love Go, Dog. Go!, but not when its hard spine thwacks my temple like a karate chop.)
The problem is this: We want to be good parents. We want our kids to excel, be literate, and one day get into college, maybe even with a scholarship. So while we can sometimes manage to say no to assorted dolls, candy, trucks, and trains, we can’t muster the strength to deny our child another book.
“Daddy? Can I buy Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! in Mandarin?”
Contrary to popular belief, children do not generally destroy each and every book they touch. In fact, most survive our children’s many re-readings in perfectly fine, if somewhat tattered, shape. Which leads to the overloaded shelves. Of course, we can’t throw the books out. I mean, come on! Enlightened parents don’t destroy intellectual property!
So we keep EVERY SINGLE BOOK THAT COMES INTO OUR POSSESSION! This forces us to get creative, stacking books sideways on shelves, making new shelves out of windowsills, and piling books on the floor, even in the bathroom.
I’m happy to report that there is a solution: the book swap party. Invite over some of your child’s friends and ask them to bring five books they want to exchange. (Of course, this leaves you with the same number of books, but at least it’ll mix up your collection).
If you really want to clear the shelves, there are lots of places to which you can give away your used books with a clear conscience: libraries, schools, churches, synagogues, mosques, the Salvation Army, even neighbors.
So the next time that pop-up copy of The Wizard of Oz nearly takes out an eye, cull the herd. But be forewarned. Whatever you give away might well be the book your child wants the next time you sit down to read.
On second thought, maybe just buy another bookshelf.