We are in the processes of making over our home while Sarah is in the hospital, and I say processes because there is a team of volunteers that come over and are doing more than one thing at once. Painting all the rooms, deep cleaning, cleaning all of Sarah's toys, dusting, washing, etc. It is spring cleaning times 100, because every nook and cranny must be pristine for Sarah's arrival. We are changing over her room to my old one, or the "princess room" as I call it, because it is the biggest bedroom in the house, has the largest closet, and has been my room since we moved into the house nearly 14 years ago, belonged to the two little girls of the tenant before that, and so it was only right that Sarah have it now.
So, needless to say, there is a lot of chaos going on in our home at the moment, and my mom said that the general concensus of the opinions of the volunteers were these: Sarah has too many toys, and we both have too many books.
Not that I owe anyone an explanation, but I have been ruminating on this, and these are my thoughts. How could anyone possibly have too many books? Books are essential to one's soul. They are a cathartic escape.
Apparently, the common practice with books is to give them away or donate them as soon as you are done reading, and this is why it has been deemed that both Sarah and I have "too many books". I do not understand this practice, at all. I never have.
I LOVE my books, I love the nook, too, but I love my actual physical hard copies. I don't think you can have too many. You develop a relationship with them while you are reading. Giving them away after you're done is like giving away your prom photos, or taking a puppy back to the pet store after you're done playing with it. It doesn't make sense to me and I love to revisit them again and again. They are like old friends, each one a memory, and I like to reread them as I see or hear something that reminds me of them.
Reading is essential to one's soul, as I said, and essential to one's life. After walking, talking, and basic life skills are taught, the very first thing we are taught to do is read. We are encouraged to do it, even forced to do it all through our academic careers, and even those who eschew reading for pleasure have no other choice if they would like to eat out, or drive, or apply for a job. I have read to Sarah from the womb on up to the present day. She loves books, too. Here at the hospital, they have volunteers that come expressly for the purpose of reading to the children. Yesterday, a volunteer came to do just that, and as she was reading a fourth book to Sarah (the volunteers already know Sarah and come well-prepared to stay for awhile), her friend and fellow volunteer came in and asked if she could hang out in our room, because no one else "needed" her. I was astonished. My child adores being read to, and keeps the volunteers for hours, reading book after book, then asks me to do it, or the nurses to do it once they have gone. It amazed me to realize that not all children like to be read to. Not only that, it saddened me. Books were as essential to my childhood as my toys or cartoons. Each one held a memory, a bit of magic that is what makes childhood so great. Where would I have been without Tuck Everlasting, Ramona Quimby, Age 8, or The Babysitter's Club series? When did television and toys become "cooler" than books?
I am proud that my child shares my love of books, and that each one is a friend to her as mine are to me. One of our favorite haunts is the library, which she loves, but she has the same problem that I do with it: When the two weeks are up, she cannot bear to part with "her" books. Understanding this all too well, we either check out the same books over and over, or we make a trip to the Barnes and Noble, which ranks just above the library and just underneath Disneyland on the list of Sarah's favorite places, and purchase a copy of the books she can't live without. Every time we go, I cannot help but remember frequenting the bookstore as a child with my own mother, and marveling at how she managed to keep me in books. I was a voracious reader, and three 100-page chapter books would last me a week at best, and there we went the following week, to buy three more. I think my mother, who was single and on a limited budget raising two children on her own, had an easier time keeping us clothed and shod than she had of keeping my library stocked with fresh reading material. But my love of books was something she understood as well, so she did it, and I am so grateful, because now I can share that love with Sarah.
Miss Boots at the library...
Perusing the stacks at Barnes and Noble...
Reading and walking...like mother, like daughter...
Sadly, the Barnes and Noble is always deserted enough that even when her counts aren't great, I can safely take her there, and if we go in the early morning hours when the other children are in school, we have the entire children's section to ourselves. It is a memory I want her to have, as special and magical as the ones I have from my own childhood, the smell of fresh ink on paper, the cool crispness of the air, to prevent the books from moldering, the vast array of books printed with bright and happy colors, each filled with wonder and magic and light, on any subject you can imagine. There is a whole world in there, or more accurately, many worlds just waiting to be discovered, and yet, there are so many who miss it. How sad for them.
I love that books are a source of pleasure and catharsis for us both, and that we have this to bond over. Already, I can share with her my favorite picture books, we can discover some anew, and as she gets older, I can pass down more and more. I love the fact that there will be one more bibliophile in the world, because apparently, they are a dying breed. And it is a proven fact that children who are read to on a regular basis do better in school, and carry a lifetime love of reading. If there is anything I hear about more often than the fact that Sarah has too many toys, or that we both have too many books, it's the fact that Sarah is extremely brilliant, and the smartest four year old that most people have come across. You can't argue with that.
By that logic, having too many books is like being too smart. It's impossible.