As I'm typing this post, Brandon is currently in a tent in the living room with all three kids and a flashlight giving some astounding depth to the Ms.Viola Swamp character from Miss Nelson is missing through some serious voice change. We are a book loving home. (also, I love that man).
The thing is, I love reading. period. When you see those memes on pinterest that are all like "I can't be trusted in a bookstore with a credit card," I laugh because seriously, Brandon and I have gotten in actual arguments over the contents of my bookstore bags that were supposed to be new sneakers for me bags instead (oops).
Backstory interlude: I loved books as a girl, I could gulp down Goosebumps books like it was an appetizer. Then there was a long period (high school) that I just didn't get reading anymore. It had become a thing we were being forced to do (read books and stories that I couldn't find any connection with) and I just lost it. Then in college, I borrowed a book from a friend and realized with amazement that it was actually kind of funny. And it's been no looking back since then.
As an elementary teacher, I became enamored with children's lit. Because I taught ESL, I was became passionate about finding books that my kids could relate too - authors who celebrated different cultures, languages, celebrations, and challenges. I saw firsthand how books became an open window for kids where there had not been one before.
Cut to, years later as a Mum to three small kids, it is all about the home library over here. But reading is the thing we do. All the kids huddled around (or on my lap) and we pull out a book and laugh, ask questions, and marvel at the stories. When the day is tipping into the chaos, we sit down to read. Before bed, we read. After Violet wakes up from her nap, we ease back into playing with a few books. When the kids pack their backpacks for strange little adventures in our yard, they pack books. books are all over our house in the weirdest places: in our bathroom, under their bunk beds, in the kids' dirty clothes hamper...
I also collect books by the season or the holiday (other people do this, right!? Right?!) and we pull out books from our decoration boxes that apply to that occasion. By far our biggest collection is Winter Holiday books, but Halloween is right behind there trying to catch up.
For our everyday reading, I try to build our home library with as much range as possible. We have books with kids and families that look just like ours and books that have kids and families that are nothing like ours. We have teeny tiny board books, and big huge books that don't fit properly in our shelves. Short chapter books, books with no words, and books with no pictures (shout out B.J. Novak!) Fiction, non-fiction, poems, and pop-up books.
Once my best friend laughed when I told her I was looking for a book to buy about a challenge we were going through with Greyson and she said, "I love that you automatically think a children's book is the first order of business for tackling this." #shegetsme
I wouldn't say my obsession with having all.the.books for my kids has gone away or even subsided in any way (um, no), it's just taken a turn for the more practical and financially sensible.
Step one: We started going to our local library regularly this summer. We signed up for a library card, we hung out and played with the toys, puzzles, and looked at books about bigfoot (obviously). And I got to know my way around a little bit. It can be intimidating walking into a place that you haven't been in sometime, especially when there are 'regulars' that know the schedules and the rules and all of that. So I introduced myself to the Children's department folks and took home flyers about storytime sessions and free movies and started to feel more comfortable little by little.
Step Two: With the help of several awesome instagram accounts that are dedicated solely to children's books reviews, I have found a way to balance my insatiable appetite for new, great books while also not spending tons of money on books the kids might like. My little routine every two weeks (that is our library's check out timeframe) is to sit down and go through my "Posts I liked" section on my instagram and sift back over the books that were featured on my favorite insta book accounts. From there, I'll copy down book titles and author names and then take that list with me on our library trip.
Our local library doesn't always have the books (they're checked out already, or they don't have them at all yet) - so I'll jot down about ten books, even though we only rent six at a time (our choice, no limit at our library!)
Step three: I've been trying to be adventurous in my book selections. Since I'm not spending money now, I can try out books that I wouldn't normally buy, but maybe seems like something we would find interesting? funny? If it's a flop, no harm, no foul - if it's not - big time win! Grey recently fell in love with a book I would have never in a million years thought and it brought out a reading spark in him that I haven't seen in awhile (ya know, big kindergartner now and he and I don't really have exactly the same taste in book content).
Step four: I have now started to see trends in our family's collective (and individual tastes) for books a little more clearly with the freedom that comes with borrowing books instead of spending real actual money. Now, based off the kids' (and my) reactions to various books we've been trying, I'm building birthday and holiday book lists. There are authors that I'm now more quick to try simply because we like their style (hello Mac Barnett, Ole Konnecke, and the great Mo Willems) we are getting in a fair taste of older books and authors too that maybe we would not have tried their non-famous books without borrowing (Frank Asch, Maurice Sendak, and Pat Hutchins).
So keep going for it mommas, giving it your all with all those voices that you change for the characters. Look at you getting kids excited about stories and pictures and words. This is a love that will last forever, so go at it with a full heart.
happy reading! xxoxox