As the move to Iowa looms, we’ve started going through our board game collection to see what stays and what goes. Most of them will go. They’re in great shape, but these are the games the kids liked from ages 5-ish to about 12 or so; they just aren’t relevant for us anymore. We’ll keep a few classics—Monopoly, Uno—but attempt to rehome most of them.
Thanks to everyone on the app formerly known as Twitter for suggesting good places to donate. I’m still waiting on a callback from the local elementary school.
The books will be tougher. We have boxes of them in the basement and ample collections in the kids’ respective bedrooms.
As difficult as it can be to cull one’s own books, it’s that much harder with kids’ books. They’re much more fun, and they carry memories.
As a little guy, TB was obsessed with books that had pictures of construction equipment or enormous trucks. He had a stack of board books that we’d keep on the floor of the living room; he’d riffle through them to find the one he wanted. Sometimes it got to the point that we’d hide a few, just to maintain our own sanity. Later he discovered Dr. Seuss, followed by some modern classics (Click Clack Moo, Martha Blah Blah), eventually finding his way to the Captain Underpants and Wimpy Kid series.
I inherited my attitude toward kids’ books from my mom, who believed that it’s much more important that kids enjoy reading than that they choose “appropriate” material. I was raised on Mad magazine, which may explain a few things. We kept reading to the kids long after they could read themselves, partly for the companionship and partly because the books were great. I defy anyone to read aloud from Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants without laughing at least once. And getting through the “three cheese trees” section of Fox in Socks without stumbling became a point of real pride.
The Girl’s first literary love was Curious George. The George books have an innocent mayhem about them that allows kids to enjoy the adventure without ever being scared. When the Curious George movie came out, we bought the soundtrack on CD; she thought that the singer was the Man in the Yellow Hat. Seemed like solid reasoning to me.
We used to read each kid three books a night, but we’d deduct one or two as punishment for bad behavior. I liked that system because we could follow through on it without feeling terrible. If someone called Family Services on us because one of them only got two stories that night instead of three, I assumed we’d be fine. That system positioned books as rewards. Screen time was limited, but book time wasn’t.
Over time, they branched out: Harry Potter, Percy Jordan, Rainbow Rowell. At this point TG quotes Oscar Wilde fluently, and TB’s book collection is probably larger than his apartment.
I mention all of this partly as a function of moving, but partly as a gesture of solidarity with the librarians out there who are really taking it on the chin these days. Libraries are wonderful monuments to civilization and equality, and I don’t even know how many times we took the kids to them. We were on a first-name basis with one of the children’s room librarians in Agawam. There wasn’t a frequent-customer discount, but if there had been, we would have qualified.
Any suggestions for places to donate mass quantities of kids’ and young adults’ books would be welcome. The books are just too good not to pass along. And a tip of the cap to the librarians out there. Your impact lingers long after the books have been returned.