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Too Many Books?

If you think the phrase “too many books” is an oxymoron, then you'd be right at home at my house. We have shelves in all the bedrooms, in the basement playroom, and in the converted sun porch which we call the library. There's even a small bookcase in the children's bathroom. The attic is home to a few hundred more books, all waiting their turn in the light, as we simply do not have enough room to display them all. We've exhausted the resources of two public libraries, and are ready to start moving our weekly visits to a new location. I check all of our books out on my card, to make it easier to track what's due when and where. It is not unusual for the librarians to override our 50 book limit, and send us trudging happily off bent under the weight of three overstuffed book bags.

We find used books at church sales and secondhand shops, we buy our new releases and “must haves” from amazon, and we lament the fact that our little corner of the world has seen every last bookstore close its doors in the last few years. We have a good 25 minute drive to the closest book store now, and with today's gas prices, that's a long way to go for a little browsing. Since I have kids ranging from age three up to young adult, there are very few books that someone in my family isn't interested in keeping. We do our best to purge non-essential books every 6 months or so, when there is a library or church sale, but we still end up keeping much more than we have space to shelve.

My husband and I are dedicated bibliophiles, and I think that's one reason that each of our children learned to read as a toddler. Growing up in a print-rich environment, reading was just the thing to do. We didn't overtly teach any of the kids, but all four were reading fluently at a very precocious age. We have Ajax, who was known in his first elementary school as “the boy who could read” because he scored at a middle school reading level on an exam given upon kindergarten entrance. Hector surprised us by reading individual words at 12 months old, and was identifying specimens in adult field guides by two and a half. “Look Mom, it's a tiger cowrie shell! It's native to...” Our Artemis was a secret reader, who tried to hide her abilities from others. She had my mother convinced that I was imagining things, as she'd do a mean Michigan J. Frog imitation every time Nana asked her to read. “Ribbit!” But by three and a half, she was devouring piles of books, and her favorite was the Illustrated Classics version of Black Beauty. Penelope read her first complete book at 24 months, and she is now three and loving the Magic School Bus series. Each child has developed according to their own inner timetable, discovering a host of literary friends as they add to their reading lists.

Why not share a book with a young child today?

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