Custom Search

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Children's Books: A Sentimental Journey

Sometimes I think that I loved children's books more than my children did. My two are now away at college and aged 19 and 21. I guess it's time to put the children's books away. Interestingly, if my children don't wait till they are in their mid 30s to have children of their own, I might get to take the books out within the next 10 years.

Like Mr. FS who received a bad evaluation for his job reshelving books at the Lilly Library (he was seen reading more than a time or two), my progress of boxing is slowed by some lengthy glances. We have given away many books over the years. Nobody, however, ever really appreciates these (to me) precious gifts.

My sister-in-law asked us for some books in the hopes that her kids would like to read. We sent a huge box and heard nary a word back. Eventually, I asked if they had received the box of books. "What box?" they said. A few days later, my sister-in-law said, "Oh, thank you for the box of books. We loved them." I got the feeling that none had been read.

So many books are about frugality and order. I've already packed A Chair for My Mother. The mother works sooooo hard. The family saves coins in a jar and, at the end, they get the mother a comfy chair.

Then there's Something from Nothing. This is one of those Grandpa makes the little boy a jacket, then a vest, eventually a button, and at the end, a wonderful story! What a wonderful message. And the pictures show the growing family upstairs, while, below the stairs, the mouse family is garbed in bits of the same fabric. The family upstairs is Eastern European Jewish and so is the mouse family: the little mice even go to Hebrew School.

Right now, I'm looking at Sailor Dog by Margaret Wise Brown, who is best known for Good-Night Moon.

Scuppers went to sea. And he went down below to his little room, and he hung his new hat on the hook for his hat, and he hung his spyglass on the hook for his spyglass, and he hung his new coat on the hook for his coat, and his new handkerchief on the hook for his handkerchief, and his pants on the hook for his pants, and his new rope on the hook for his rope, and his new shoes he put under his bunk, and himself he put on his bunk.

And here he is where he wants to be--a sailor sailing the deep green sea.

How's that for simplicity and order? Not a single book is about going to the mall, opening scads of presents on birthdays and holidays, whipping out the credit card, or getting your first cell phone.

I can't resist another favorite: Roxaboxen. This is a true story about a bunch of kids perhaps 80 years ago in Funny's state of Arizona, making a whole world (with rules, even a jail) in the desert.

I am getting a distinct sense of deja vu. I think that I wrote an almost identical post in the early days of my blog. Well, probably no one read it then. Plus, it's recycling.


Duchesse said...

Just now, we have one of those Ikea wheeled boxes in our livingroom filled with our son's childhood books (all in French but some, like the Robert Munsch) exist in English.) Two little Francophone girls down the street are getting them on loan.

Le Duc has been busy putting nameplates in them, and they are (theoretically) to be kept in that rolling box because our sons are adamant about this being a LOAN.

What will SIL do with the books? I hope return or pass them on as books were made to be read.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Duchesse-I don't like to think about this, but I would guess the books were thrown away. My brother and sil work long hours and have a long commute--and generally the kind of frenetic upper-middle class life I fled from...

Shelley said...

Amazing, when you think about it, how people seem to be so widely divided: one is either a book person or they are not. Also rather interesting how much store we put on books, we book people. Your post has made me think about why that is. I can't conceive of how non-book people cope; what do they do that is their substitute for reading? See? I think reading is such an essential part of my life that I assume that everyone must have the same need, just that others fill theirs differently. I think my perfect semi-retirement job would be part time at the village library, but I'd probably get in trouble for reading too much, too!

Duchesse said...

I heard a stat (sorry cannot give souce) that 41% of Americans have not read one book in a year. (I sense a post coming on.) I deeply hope your sil/bil dropped the books at Goodwill. There is little so sweet to me as seeing a child poring over a book, that rapt look on his or her face.

That's why we raised our sons without TV in the house, we wanted them to be readers before they were watchers. And they are- not that they are teriffic intellectuals, but they are avid readers.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Shelley--I am the only reader in my family of origin. Once my mother was widowed, she was prone to complaints of boredom. Not a pretty sight.

@Duchesse--I think the number may be higher--I've seen such studies too. I think my little nephews didn't read b/c the parents didn't read. As I mention above, I am the only reader in my family--strange, because both my parents were college grads and my father had a doctorate.