Even if the someone else is your child?
The headline in the interiors newsletter in my inbox got my hackles up: ‘The One Question I Ask Myself When Decluttering My Kids’ Books.’ I thought, you can’t do that! Even if it makes your home that much neater. They are not yours to make a decision on.
But, it does seem that they had primarily toddler books in mind; picture books and similar, that you read to your child. You are to ask yourself ‘Do I enjoy reading this book?’
Fair enough. I can see what they are saying, and why.
It makes me think of two memories from the past. The long-suffering faces of my hosts when they promised their ten-year-old that she could pick any board game she wanted to play that evening. As she went to get it, they groaned, knowing full well which one it was going to be. (Luckily for me, I quite liked the game, but might not have admitted to it.)
The child likes what it likes, no matter how boring the adult finds it. That goes for books, too.
And the other thing; the sad fate of the Resident IT Consultant’s childhood books. They are no more. Or at least, they are not with us. Someone else might have got them from Oxfam. I don’t want the Grandmother to sound like a bad person. She wasn’t. But it seems that when her firstborn went to university, his books went too. Not with him, but presumably handed over to a charity shop. I imagine she was merely tidying up, neatening something that would no longer be needed.
He’s since been buying new old Arthur Ransomes to build up a second childhood collection. However, some books can’t come back. And I feel it was his right to decide, if and what and when.
But maybe it’s OK to declutter some early picture books. Or maybe not. You can’t be sure that your now three-year-old won’t one day ecstatically buy a dog-eared copy of some boring old picture book that they have sorely missed for the last 25 years. While that ‘quality’ book you hung on to always bored them stiff.
Besides, if at the toddler stage you already have too many books for your child, maybe it would have been better to go to the library?