|Not Me, but not far off. See photo note at bottom of post|
I love the feel of pages worn from multiple readings. I love the smell of old bookstores and brand new paperbacks. I love re-reading old favorites and making notes in the margins. I love running my fingers along the spines of the books in my collection. These books are my friends. They have kept me entertained, distracted and motivated. They’ve taught me new skills and exposed me to intriguing ideas.
This growing fascination with electronic reading gadgets (yes, Kindle, I’m talking about you) has me stumped. I just don’t get it. If you are a fan of this format, please don’t take offense. It’s just that I can’t imagine replacing my old books with a cold tablet.
I first fell in love with books as a child. From early picture books to the Little House series and Anne of Green Gables, they opened a new world for me. The content of each book was of course the crux of the appeal, but I was also always intrigued by the way it felt to hold a book in my hands. I loved to imagine the others who had held that same tome before me. I remember reading Pride and Prejudice for the first time. It was an old copy (1940) that my Great Aunt Mary had given me. She had been a librarian herself, and wanted to share this old favorite with a new generation. The book still holds an honored place on my shelf. I was fourteen when I finished it the first time. I know this because I wrote my name and the date in the front cover when I was finished. Over the years, I’ve kept up this habit. It helps me to keep track of how long its been since I read a favorite. That book is one I’ll always cherish, but it’s not where it all began.
We didn’t have a television for many years in my childhood and during that time trips to the Library were precious. Our local library allowed six books at a time, and those could be checked out for two weeks. So, every two weeks our little family trooped off to the Library for new reading material. In addition to those wonderful library books, I also had a small collection of picture books and chapter books. Over the years, they got lost or damaged. About ten years ago I decided to attempt to recreate my childhood collection.
And so began a quest which opened me to a whole new (exciting) world….the world of children’s book collecting. Even in the beginning, I knew that I could probably find them all on eBay, but that seemed like cheating somehow. So, I began to scour garage sales and flea markets for titles that I remembered. Whenever I found an old favorite, it was like being reunited with a childhood friend, long forgotten.
Early findings included Just for You by Mercer Meyer, Where Did the Baby Go by Eloise Wilkin, and Disney’s classic illustrated Bambi. As the stack of picture books remembered from my childhood grew, I began to branch out even more. I began to search for the chapter books (Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series, and as many of the Happy Hollister mysteries as I could find) that brought such warm memories. Later I started looking for some of the young adult fiction I had also enjoyed as well. Favorites by S.E. Hinton and M.E. Kerr joined the ranks of Judy Blume.
There came a point when I honestly couldn’t think of a book I’d read in childhood that I hadn’t tracked down. So I started buying different children’s books that appealed to me, new and old.
By the time Little Guy was born, I owned well over a thousand children’s books. Almost three hundred are Little Golden Books alone. So to say our little fellow will have plenty of reading material handy is an understatement. Of course, like most book lovers my complete book collection doesn’t end with just one genre. I have many bookcases full to bursting with all of my favorite grown-up books too (my guilty pleasures are mysteries and chick lit, but honestly I'll read just about anything).
Lately, Little Guy has been choosing his own books to read at bedtime, and I just can’t really express how excited I’ve been to see his choices, to know that these are the books he’ll hopefully remember fondly when he’s an adult – it makes me smile. Lately he’s been picking a lot of Mercer Meyer’s Little Critter books, and his favorite (without any prompting from me) is also “Just For You”. Every time I read him that book, I can vividly remember my Mom reading it to me. It makes my heart sing. It makes me very glad I decided to track down that childhood collection, and it makes me happy that he’s picking real books off shelves instead of choosing some file from a cold computer screen.
Call me old fashioned. I don’t care. I love my books!
Photo Note: I found this pic on Bing Images. Originally posted on the Marian Wright Edelman Library home page. Site