I never expect that everyone who attends my parties, book fairs, booths etc. will make a purchase. Maybe they don't have money right now, don't see anything they think their kids will like, just bought a bunch of books etc.. and that is totally fine with me! BUT, the words that are like fingernails on a chalk board are "we have way too many books." Here's why I cringe when I hear these words:
1) The Message
Usually this is said in front of kids and the message it sends make me kinda blue. What I hear is "Oh you want these highly educational objects that will fill your minds and inspire creativity. Nope, sorry your limit on those is topped out." Instead, I'd love to hear: "That is great that you would love that book. It does look amazing. We are going to have to pass this time. Let's go find a book at home we haven't read in awhile." Hear the difference? Let's celebrate children's want for books even if we need to skip making a purchase at this time.
2) The Right Books
Really! It's amazing how much infants change in the first year of their life. Even the differences between a two-year old and a three-year old are incredible! Books that are age appropriate change rapidly at those young ages. Interests can change rapidly too, so it's great to follow interests with books on those subjects- trains, dinosaurs, animals, weather etc.
Most of the time, there are not too many books... there are too many books OUT. Taking the time to sort out books that aren't being read currently or are at the wrong level will help with the clutter. You can store them away temporarily and bring them back out and they will feel like brand new for your littles. Or if it doesn't hold great appeal for you and your little readers, donate it. There are lots of places that would love your gently used books! Or sell them and use that money to buy new books!
I do think it is good to keep some younger books around, especially favorites. They can be really comforting and confidence building for beginning readers. Also, it is great to spread out book locations. Place a small book basket in different areas- by the kitchen table, in the car and yes, in the bathroom to encourage a easy access to books.
Sometimes lots of books in the house causes stress because they are disorganized. As mentioned above, book baskets can be a huge help as they are way easier for kids to find books AND put them back. Shelves where kids can see the titles are helpful too.
4) The Studies
The bottom line is that there really is no such thing as too many books. Studies show that households with the most books are more likely to have children who complete the highest levels of education and earn the most money. According to a 20-year study led by Mariah Evans, University of Nevada, Reno associate professor of sociology and resource economics:
"For years, educators have thought the strongest predictor of attaining high levels of education was having parents who were highly educated. But, strikingly, this massive study showed that the difference between being raised in a bookless home compared to being raised in a home with a 500-book library has as great an effect on the level of education a child will attain as having parents who are barely literate (3 years of education) compared to having parents who have a university education (15 or 16 years of education)."
So, go ahead and fill up the book shelves and baskets! And please, if you are out with your child and he or she wants a book, let them know how amazing that is whether or not you will be purchasing said book.
Gail Sawchuk, Educational Consultant with Usborne Books & More encourages engaged parenting and early learning through books. She lives in Colorado with her boys, husband and dog where she enjoys hiking, the mountains and the huge blue skies.