I Ask Myself Just One Question When Culling My Kids’ Books — and It’s Not the One You Think
A child’s relationship to books is one of the biggest predictors of their success down the road, and exposure to all types of print has a lot to do with early reading ability. So hang on to your well-worn “Calvin & Hobbes”treasuries, go ahead and subscribe to Highlights, and definitely send a book-loving message by keeping a fairly robust library, if that’s your thing. But at some point, as your shelves inevitably runneth over, every parent has to face the task of decluttering their children’s books.
It may seem far easier to just hang on to all the children’s books you have than to go through them one by one, but decluttering your children’s books is an important part of ensuring that their collection is both edifying and appealing. Plus, to state the obvious, a smaller children’s collection is far easier to keep organized. So how to whittle down your children’s library? I do it by asking myself one simple but powerful question.
“Do I enjoy reading this book?”
The question may seem like a self-serving one, and it kind of is, but it also serves your children — because reading to your children isn’t just about the book. A huge part of what makes reading to children important is that the relationship they develop with books has so much to do with how they feel when they’re reading. If reading and books are associated with the comfort of your lap and the soothing tone of your voice, their emotional connection to books will be positive and they’re far more likely to become book lovers (yay!).
In this sense, which book you’re reading doesn’t matter. But if your child’s choice of book makes you sigh or you can’t read it without putting yourself to sleep, they’re picking up on those subtle clues and your reading sessions aren’t as productive as they could be if you were reading a book you enjoy with genuine enthusiasm.
Repetition is Good … if the Book Is Good
It’s normal for your child to pick the same book or the same few books every night, and this kind of repetition is really good for developing their pre-reading skills. They love to know what comes next and often “read” along with you. If you’re going to be reading something over and over and over again, wouldn’t it be far more pleasant if it’s something appealing to you as well as to them? And a good book will always give you material for conversation or play no matter how many times it is read.
Though they may sometimes reach for certain books just because they feature a favorite animated character, children also know how to appreciate a thoughtfully constructed story, skillfully arranged rhyming, or an artfully illustrated book. In a nutshell, if you like the book, your kids probably will too. Which makes the question, “Do I enjoy reading this?” not much different than “Will my kid enjoy reading this?”
This post was originally published on Apartment Therapy. Read it there: The One Question I Ask Myself When Declutter My Kids’ Books