Sunday, January 4, 2015

Downsizing the Book Collection, or 44 Children's Books That Made the Cut (+5 more)

For a long time - most of my life, really - I've collected books, well into the thousands.

Our teensy house has barely contained all these volumes. Pressure from my family and my dislike of clutter has resulted in me culling my collections quite severely.

I know, I know. You may be horrified at my willingness to downsize my library. However, I no longer truly believed my old mantra: You can never have too many books.

I DID have too many books. I just knew it was time to let many of them go.Today was another step in that lengthy journey.

Our upstairs landing once held 4 bookcases; today the landing is book-free. No worries, as I still have a bookcase in my bedroom and two in the living room. The kids own books which they keep in their bedrooms.

Deciding what to keep was painful. I've sold some, given away some, and even (gasp) discarded some. (Only the really well-used ones, I promise!)

I asked myself questions like these to help weed through my collection:

  • Will any of my children (currently ages 12-20) want to read this?
  • Will I personally ever read this? (I tried to be very realistic.)
  • Would a replacement be easily available if I ever wanted one?
  • Is the information in this book current and useful?
  • Can I find this information faster online?
  • Will I ever want to read this book to a grandchild? 
  • (And a corollary to that is: Do I want to hold on to it until that event happens?)
  • Does this book hold special memories? (For example, was it gifted by a special person?)
  • Is the book in good enough condition to keep?

I don't need to hold on to books for emotional reasons. Well, at least not very many. (I will admit to a small box of books that fit that description.)

For those that are wondering which books were deemed worthy of shelf space in my living room, here are 44 picture books that made the cut:

  1. A Squirrel's Tale by Richard Fowler (Usborne)
  2. The Amelia Bedelia Treasury by Peggy Parish
  3. Animalia by Graeme Base
  4. Are You My Mother by P.D. Eastman
  5. The Big Snow by Berta and Elmer Hader
  6. The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
  7. Catskill Eagle by Herman Melville (illus by Thomas Locker)
  8. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault, illus by Lois Ehlert
  9. Corduroy by Don Freeman
  10. Dr. Seuss's ABC
  11. The Frances Collection by Russell Hoban
  12. Go, Dog. Go! By P.D. Eastman
  13. The Golden Egg Book by Margaret Wise Brown
  14. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
  15. Guess How Much I Love You, by Sam McBratney
  16. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
  17. I Am a Bunny by Ole Risum, illustrated by Richard Scarry
  18. I Can Draw Animals by Ray Gibson (Usborne)
  19. Jamberry by Bruce Degen
  20. Least of All by Carol Purdy
  21. The Little Bear Treasury by Else Holmelund Minarik
  22. The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper
  23. The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood
  24. Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
  25. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
  26. Millions of Cats by Wanda Ga'g
  27. The Monster at the End of this Book starring Lovable, Furry Old Grover by Jon Stone
  28. Mother Goose, Carolyn Wells edition (1946)
  29. One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey
  30. Picnic by Emily Arnold McCully
  31. The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey
  32. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
  33. Saint George and the Dragon retold by Margaret Hodges, illus by Trina Schart Hyman
  34. Sleeping Ugly by Jane Yolen
  35. The Snowman by Raymond Briggs
  36. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  37. The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
  38. Ten Apples Up on Top by Theo LeSieg
  39. The Usborne First Thousand Words in Spanish by Heather Amery and Stephen Cartwright
  40. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
  41. Wait Till The Moon is Full by Margaret Wise Brown, illus by Garth Williams
  42. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
  43. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  44. White Snow Bright Snow by Alvin Tresselt

Quite an enjoyable collection of picture books, don't you agree? I know there are a few greats that are not here. For example, my copies of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Caps for Sale were worn out, so I didn't keep them. Other favorites like Blueberries for Sal and the oversized volumes by Richard Scarry have gone missing over time. I will probably replace those titles and others someday.

For picture book aficionados, here is a list of School Library Journal's Top 100 Picture Books. (Psst.... lots of mine are on there!)

I will leave you with a picture of my picture book collection. (And yes, I do have two copies of Make Way for Ducklings. I like that book, ok?) Many other books, both fiction and non-fiction, live on that bookshelf too. I am in no danger of being book-less.

But my new mantra is Only Keep the Books You Really Want.

EDITED 1/10/15 - I went through another box of books I found and found 5 more picture books I want to keep.

  1. My Little Golden Book About God by Jane Werner Watson (this one is inscribed from me to David April 1995)
  2. Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion
  3. We Were Tired of Living in a House by Liesel Moak Skorpen, illus by Doris Burn
  4. Christina Katerina and the Box by Patricia Lee Gauch, illus by Doris Burn (not the new edition with different illustrations)
  5. Andrew Henry's Meadow written and illustrated by Doris Burn 

(evidently I like Doris Burn's illustrations)