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Friday, February 15, 2013

Which Picture Books Should I Keep?

I'm a bargain shopper to the max, even (especially?) when it comes to picture books. I spend a lot of time haunting yard sales and thrift stores, looking for a diamond in the rough. Honestly, it usually doesn't take much digging or searching to find great picture books for a steal. And I can't help but wonder why people get rid of some of these great books I find.

Granted, I teach books, so I hardly ever toss any picture books from my collection. I suppose not everyone has that same inclination, eh? So unless you're aiming to be featured on an episode of Hoarders someday, how do you sort through all those books that your kids have outgrown? Do you get rid of them all? Should you save some? If you save some, how many and which ones?

My in-laws recently came for a weekend visit and brought along two big boxes of books from my husband's childhood. It was like Christmas for me! I had so much fun looking through them all, seeing vintage editions of some classics, and hearing my mother-in-law tell me about where they came from and which ones were most treasured. I've been reading them with my kids and delight in telling them, "This was one of Daddy's favorite books when he was little!" That is gold! I am so thankful that my MIL hung onto those books all these years.

You don't need to save all the picture books on your shelf, but I think you should save some. Here are a few reasons why:

  •  They make wonderful family heirlooms.
  •  What are you going to read the grandkids   if you get rid of all those picture books?
  •  It's great reading motivation for kids to be able to hold, and feel, and experience a picture book from their parents' childhood. 
You probably can't, or don't want to, save them all though. So here are a few things to ask yourself, as you consider each book in your personal collection, that might help you decide which ones to keep and which ones to pass along.
  • Was this one of my child's favorite books? Did they ask to have it read to them often? Do I know it by heart? Was it special to them for some reason?
  • Was this book special to me as a mom or dad? Did I particularly enjoy reading this one to my child? Does it remind me of my child for a particular reason? 
  • Is there special meaning or significance to this book? Was it a gift from someone special? Was it received on a special occasion? Does it have a personal inscription penned inside the cover?
  • Is there a personal story that goes with this picture book? Was it the first book your child ever read themselves? Did it get them through a difficult time? Did it help them grasp a difficult concept?
Answering "yes" to any of these questions means it might be worth keeping that book. Even if a book is not a classic, or perhaps not even that good, if it's special to you or your child, it could be worth keeping. Write down on a notecard what makes that book special, why you kept it, and paperclip it into the book. You'll be glad you did, and likely your family will be too!

I'm probably preaching to the choir here when I ask you to not to throw away your unwanted picture books as you sort! Pass them onto friends, family, schools, or Goodwill! I've also seen these bins pictured below that you could drop them in!

My mom was great about saving books from my childhood too. I wrote this post  about one particular book that I was so glad she hung onto for us kids! 

Have you hung onto picture books your children have outgrown? How do you decide which ones to keep?

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