I’m a librarian, and I let my kids eat books.
I also let them break the bindings. (And I come from a book binding family.)
I will buy secondhand board books cheap — something I found horridly unsanitary before I had kids, but which became both feasible and essential after reading Good Night, Moon approximately 6742 times in Pippin’s first year, and, as grad students, not being able to buy many brand-new board books. (Why are they so much more expensive than other books?)
I will also spend absurd amounts of time and money on a customized book. Below is the only gift we gave Pippin for Christmas the year he was 1: a board book of photos of him and his extended family. (We got ours here — let me know if you find another service you like better, because Scout will need hers soon, and they don’t come cheap.) I’ve also made, upon Pippin’s request, a “Granby, Massachusetts book” of photos and memories from our life there, and we often read our family photo books as if they were stories.
I do all this because I think books are meant to be read and used and loved on. I buy Pippin dumb books that excite him and I buy books that excite me and I buy books I hope someday Scout will love.
Books are meant to be loved on, and that will come at the cost of an untidy house (well, untidier) and books damaged beyond repair and books misplaced who knows where. Besides a lovely popup of The Little Prince my childhood friend once gave Pip, I can’t think of a book in the house I wouldn’t let him handle. (He can touch that when he is 12.)
The goal, after all, is a family of readers, not a perfectly curated collection of tasteful and well-preserved books. The goal, after all, is this: