See that snapshot at the top of the page? The one with all the books? Yup. That one.
That’s a small slice of the children’s bookcase in my playroom. On that bookcase are books from my own childhood, books that I collected from my days as a classroom teacher, books I’ve since picked up at library sales and clearance racks, and still others that have been given to my toddler as gifts. Several are signed by authors or illustrators I’ve had the privilege of meeting. There are classics, such as A.A Milne’s The Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh, and Gertrude Crampton’s Scuffy the Tugboat. There are modern favorites like the Ladybug Girl books by Jacky Davis and David Soman. And, since we’re not so far past the phase where the only purpose for books is to chew on them, there are board books by some of my favorite authors including Karen Katz and Salina Yoon.
But you know what you can’t see from that image? The bookcase is a disaster.
I mean it. I’m a normally neat and organized person, but that area is in a constant state of disarray. And it’s not just the bookcase. It’s the books, too. There are creased and folded covers, unexplained ink smears, and I daresay even a tear or two along the way.
Recently, while watching my daughter enthusiastically explore a lift-the-flap book, someone told me, “Well, that book won’t last long.”
Maybe not. But here’s why I’m okay with that.
The books in our house are loved. They’re not always neat and orderly, the spines aren’t perfectly aligned on the shelves, and they definitely couldn’t be passed off as new. But we use them every single day. My toddler has carte blanche to go over to her bookcase, pull off any title she wants, and bring it to me. She has my full permission to select several titles at a time, spread them around her on the floor, and explore them at her will. If a page is accidentally torn or bent, I remind her to be gentle with the books, and we move on. If she’s purposely destructive, the book is taken away, just like we do with any other toy. We’ve taught her to treat her books with respect, but they’re not museum items. They’re meant to be used. It’s the one spot in my house where I can be proud of the disarray.
Now the rest of my home? Well, I may be a little compulsive…
What about you? Do you have a children’s bookcase in your home? Does it look like mine, or are you more organized?