We have a lot of children’s books. Tilly had a library trolley full of picture books before she was even born, because I had put some old favourites of mine on her baby registry, and we had asked for inscribed books instead of cards at her baby shower. The amount of books she has amassed since being born has probably quadrupled in number and if I were to put all the board and picture books in our house onto one bookcase, they would probably fill an entire full-size Billy bookcase.
Tilly is the first of her generation in our family, and I know many of her things are going to be passed on to her brother (as I write this post, my due date is eight weeks away, but I’m also going to schedule this post on my due date so who knows, by the time you read this Tilly may already be an older sister). After her brother is done with all the baby paraphernalia, they will be passed on to our future nieces and nephews (as yet non-existent but I know there are plans for there to be nieces and nephews in the next few years).
Clothes and furniture and other assorted baby crap is easy: please, take it all. I’ll keep Tilly’s first pair of shoes and her memorabilia box, and the same goes for her brother, but everything else I will happily pass on. But what of the books? My husband’s mum has kept some of the picture books from when he was a child, and it’s been great to compare his version of Brown Bear Brown Bear to Tilly’s board book edition, published some twenty years later. Tilly has been reading some of her dad’s old picture books, and it’s been fun to see her grandparents read these old books to her. My husband’s mum wasn’t saving these books (or the old toys, for that matter) with the intention of bringing them out for future grandchildren, but that is what ended happening.
Which led me to wonder: if, in a few decades, I do end up with grandchildren, are there any books from our collection now that I would want to share with them? Are there any books that I wouldn’t want to pass onto my future nieces and nephews or members of our extended family, but instead them keep them in our little family unit just in case Tilly and her brother end up having children one day? Or books that I don’t want to give away just because I love them so much that I want to keep them for myself?
Well, the easy answer is yes, of course there are. Just as with my own grown-up books there have been some that have survived many weeding attempts and there are books I would never want to part with, there are children’s books like that. But to go deeper in this question, which books are they? Which books are the ones that, after Tilly and baby two have grown out of board books and picture books, are the ones I would like to still keep and store? Will they be my children’s favourites? Mine and my husband’s favourites? The ones we read all the time at bedtime?
I have a feeling that a lot of the ones we end up keeping will be the ones with characters and stories, so not the books that are the activity or interactive or ‘learning’ books, but the ones with the treasured characters and plots that keep us riveted and that lull us to sleep at night. You know, the kinds of books that turn us into readers. But honestly, only time will tell.