Thursday, April 25, 2013

A New Life for Picture Books

picture books

My kids and I are avid readers; you might even say book junkies. My husband has voiced the complaints that "you can't let him check so many books out of the library" because then our son doesn't talk to us, and "you've turned every room in the house into a place to read," as if that were a bad thing. Silly boy.

It's wonderful to share a hobby--dare I say love--with my children. It gives us common ground, something to discuss, and even things to do together (libraries, book sales, audiobooks, reading dinners). Both of my kids are deep into chapter books now, which means most of their reading is done by themselves. We still share books by discussing them or listening to audiobooks in the car, but the opportunities to read aloud are few even with my six-year-old. 

We have an abundance of bookshelves, but even they are beginning to get full. While I donated most of the board books, there is still a substantial pile I couldn't bear to part with because I remember reading and rereading them to my babies. While all three of us still appreciate a good picture book, the lesser ones probably should be donated soon. Add to that our early readers, beginning chapter books, advanced chapter books, young adult novels, some college texts I kept, my favorite novels I've retained, and my tremendous To Read shelf, and we're beginning to burst at the bookshelf seams.

The next logical step is to donate some picture books, but I just can't do it. In "Memories of a Bedtime Book Club" in the New York Times, Dwight Garner has given me a justification. (His children are 13 and 15, which has given me permission to keep our books around for a long time.)

I was drawn in by the beginning of the piece, where Garner shares his sadness about packing away the "last, best" of their picture books. I skimmed his recommendations as we now read new picture books only at the bookstore or library, where we pass one around, taking turns and commenting upon it. Garner then offered me a reason to keep the picture books and read aloud again--"the popcorn reading party." Garner explains:

"Here's how you have a popcorn reading party:  a) You make popcorn. b) You gather a pile of your best kids' books. c) You yell, 'popcorn reading party!' d) You try to work it out so that the kids books end at about the same time the popcorn does."

I don't know about you, but this sounds like my idea of fun. I'm guessing my husband will opt out but that the remaining three of us will have a ball. I'll let you know which books we choose and how it goes. Popcorn and books--what could go wrong?

What do you think? Are you ready to plan a popcorn reading party of your own?

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