Building a Family Reading Culture, 2: Books As Un-Sacred Objects

I’m a librarian, and I let my kids eat books.

Gee, this book tastes delicious.

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.

Aunt K, Uncle Tom and the marshmallowy baptism boy, commemorated in a fully edible board book

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.

If I collect enough copies, surely Scout has no choice but to be an Anne fan, right?

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.)

This is his first copy of that book, long since relegated to the Great Bookshelf in the Sky and promptly replaced with another copy.

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:

Reading the book he received for his third birthday from his godparents

2 thoughts on “Building a Family Reading Culture, 2: Books As Un-Sacred Objects

  1. As we strive to raise readers, this is such a great reminder! My mom gave Kennedy and I three really pretty hardbound girly classics that James likes to play with and I have to fight down the urge to rip them from his hands…


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