Choosing Books

Every November and May the La Leche League group in our town has a garage sale fundraiser. Each year I am amazed by the amount of "stuff" we have to donate, specifically books. Because we love to read and everyone knows it, we tend to amass new books on a fairly regular basis. I have a hard time telling my children no when they are begging for a new book (and they are well aware of this fact). There are several things that cause a book to be delegated to the pass along pile:

  • Torn Pages or Cover-depending on the severity we may repair and keep it. Hardcover books rarely are discarded for this reason because they hold up so much better.
  • Duplicate Books-surprises are nice, but run the risk of being duplicated and sometimes we just get too many of the same type of book.
  • No longer interesting to the kids
  • Overly animated- think the "new" animated Curious George books vs. the original Curious George books with original drawings. We prefer books with artistic or real images.
  • Too long or hard to read for the kids- So many "easy" readers have too many words or words that are neither phonetic or easily decodable. This just leads to frustration for Aidan and then the book gets added to the pass along pile.
  • Anything over marketed, over commercialized, or just plain unbelievable.
So what makes a good book? We prefer to have our home library reflect the following principles of good literature:

  • A balance of realistic fiction, non fiction, poetry, and fantasy.
  • Artistic and thought-out images that add to the story without distracting from the words and meaning of the story.
  • Well-made books that can stand up to repeated reading.
  • Believable and well developed characters. For example Daniel is a biblical figure with a great amount of integrity. Why does he have to be turned into a pickle in order to be interesting to children? He is a person, and we believe he should be represented as such.
  • Representing a variety of cultures, customs, ages, and places.
This may seem somewhat stringent, but the reality is that these opinions are based on classroom experience, training, my own preferences, but most importantly what my children seem to enjoy the most. The books that meet the standards on the bottom half of this list are the ones that are loved until they are worn... and the ones I don't mind replacing! Other books are fun sometimes, but their enjoyment doesn't last and when it fades we pass them on or return them to the library!

So, thanks to La Leche League, twice per year I get the chance to evaluate the books we have and thin down our supply to the books we love best!

Aidan's Favorite Book: The Complete Works of Curious George
Caleb's Favorite Book: "No I like Curious George!" (He is 3!)
Tim's Favorite Book: Harry Potter, Book 6
Heidi's Favorite Book: Um yeah..just kidding, no way can I choose ONE book (or even one author for that matter) I do enjoy reading nonfiction books on a variety of topics and also historical fiction.


Rachel said...

Heidi -
I'm so glad you posted a picture of Kenna on your blog! She is beautiful! Makes me wonder how we'll see our daughters in heaven -will they be babies or grown? I'd like to think we'll be able to see them in various stages since we missed that on earth.

And Amen to not reducing Biblical characters to pickles in order to make them interesting. Paul has a hard time w/books that show animals dressed and acting as people as well.

Meredith said...

Heidi - I found you! So glad to meet you here! :) I look forward to looking through your space here...