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Books and Babies

February 3, 2010
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I spent the morning transferring books from an old pressboard bookcase that was falling apart to some wonderful new cases that had finally come in from the Wooden Chair, smelling pungently of stain and polyurethane. They were solid and oak, and I had loved them on sight…even more so when they were finally in my living room and the kids’ books were sliding home on their shelves.

It’s a process for me, though—transferring stacks on stacks of well-read and beloved children’s books from one bookcase to another. I get caught up in familiar covers and start flipping pages, looking for this passage or that. Or, there’s a book that I purchased but hadn’t really had time to read just yet…maybe I should set that aside so I can read it with Lawson later? It’s a labor of love.

Especially when I get to the top shelf of one of the bookcases, the “short stack” shelf…the shelf for the tiny little board books and the shorter paperbacks that don’t fare so well when stacked against the taller hardcovers. Here I found myself sitting down on the floor, surrounding myself with books, and just poring over them.

There were the books that the kids were reading today: Captain Underpants for Lawson, and Nancy Drew for Autumn. She’s been reading Nancy Drew for years now, but can’t quite seem to make herself stop, even though she’s well past the reading level. I understand. If I started reading one, I’d probably want to keep reading it, too, just for nostalgia’s sake.

Then there are all of the sweet Miss Spider books, and Eric Carle’s. They were so great for phonics and counting, once the kids starting getting a little older.

And then there are the baby books…the books I kept in a little basket by the glider, and reached for at every nap and bedtime. Mama, Do You Love Me. Piggies. Guess How Much I Love You. Time for Bed. Goodnight Moon.

 My hands shake, just a little, as I start to turn the well-worn board pages. I could recite these rhythmic stories by heart, and did, some nights, when the lights were down low, and brown eyes had shuttered closed, and I just wasn’t ready to lay that precious sleeping weight in the crib quite yet. “Time for bed, little bee, little bee. Yes, I love you, and you love me,” I’d whisper.

Captain Underpants just isn’t the same.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. February 3, 2010 1:09 pm

    Books are some of my best friends. The mental pictures created by words or the illustrations that keep me searching for something I’ve missed, the characters who I’m sure I would be friends with were we ever to meet in real life, the ability to transport me to other times and places… books are magic.

    Great reflective post.

  2. Lori permalink*
    February 3, 2010 1:21 pm

    Thanks, Gerb, and ditto that. It was great re-visiting some of those old friends.

  3. February 3, 2010 1:44 pm

    No Captain Underpants just doesn’t cut it does it? And I adore Nancey Drew.

  4. February 3, 2010 5:42 pm

    I love this post. Books are my friends. They take me places, they lift my spirits, they make my kids shut up. 😀

    Growing up I loved the “Trixie Beldon” books. My sisters had “Nancy Drew”, I had Trixie. Trixie and every one of the “Black Stallion” books.

    Not having a TV and living out, way out so no friends, the animals and my books were my friends.

    Now, it tickles me to death to see eveyone of my kids snuggled up with a book and begging to go to the library.

    It’s a good thing to pass along……even if it is “Captain Underpants” or “Calivin and Hobbes”. 😀

  5. Lori permalink*
    February 4, 2010 9:05 pm

    Shanna–somehow I just haven’t developed the same affection for the Capn as I have for Nancy…

  6. Lori permalink*
    February 4, 2010 9:08 pm

    Rach–I loved Trixie Belden! Did she come before or after Nancy Drew? I don’t remember. I read them all. Voraciously. I even tried to read the Hardy Boys, but I couldn’t quite get into those as much…I remember those trips to the library. My mom would take us, and my brothers might grab a book or two, while I literally had a STACK. And I’d read them, every last one. Those were the days. I need to take my kids to the library, instead of Barnes and Noble, I think. 😉

  7. Anaise permalink
    February 5, 2010 2:44 pm

    I re-read the Nancy Drew series just a couple of years ago–I loved her! My girls are the right age and reading level to enjoy her now.

    And I loved Cherry Ames and the Bobbsey Twins . . . anything in series so that I could have as much time with my “friends” as possible.

    And I can’t even begin to get started on picture books–they are such treasures!

    I love story time as much as my kids do!

  8. February 5, 2010 11:06 pm

    My son is scared of the last page of that book “Time For Bed”, it’s so funny!!

    Since my husband doesn’t read (seriously, if it’s not the BoM, he won’t read it) he laughs at me as I “dust” the bookshelf for an hour or so because I LOVE looking back at books and remembering all those warm fuzzy feelings again, it’s a great reason to keep them all.

  9. February 6, 2010 2:08 am

    Lori,
    Wow, I love this post. It stirs so many memories.
    “Nancy” and I were best of friends in grade school and I can’t wait for my Emma to get old enough to make friends with her as well.
    Did you ever read “I’ll Love You Forever” to your kids? I can’t, even now- 4 kids -later read it to them without crying. When it’s brought out to be read they’ll say, “Read this one, because you cry.” But I know they really mean, “Read this one, because it shows me how much you love me.” And that is definitely something to be treasured.

  10. Lori permalink*
    February 6, 2010 10:41 pm

    Anaise–Isn’t it great when our kids start enjoying the same things that we did as kids? And it’s actually cool for them to do so? I loved the Bobbsey Twins, too….don’t really remember Cherry Ames–I’ll have to check her out. I’ve always loved serial things, for the exact same reason. 😉

  11. Lori permalink*
    February 6, 2010 10:41 pm

    Oh, Sarah…that is TOO funny! And I love that you very obviously have the same complex as me. Retentives, Hail!

  12. Lori permalink*
    February 6, 2010 10:43 pm

    Natalie–so many of us were friends with Nancy–how on earth did she find time for us all? 😉 And yes, I’ll Love You Forever was a big favorite. That’s on the “tall” shelf…it just skipped being photographed. They make me a little weepy, too. And that’s it, exactly–it does show how much you love them. What a gift.

  13. February 6, 2010 11:58 pm

    Rachel – Calvin and Hobbes are a fantastic legacy to leave behind!

    I do have to add that “The Salamander Room” is a wonderful book, as is “Where the Wild Things Are,” “The Great Brain” books, and “I Love You Forever.”

    Thanks for the stroll down dusty memory roads.

  14. Lori permalink*
    February 7, 2010 8:49 am

    We used to bring home stacks of C&H from the library when we were kids, Rach–I meant to tell you that, sorry. They were great favorites.

    And all of those, J, are on my shelves. Great minds, and all that? Have you seen the movie version of “Where the Wild Things Are,” btw? We haven’t yet, and I was curious about how wonderful it was and whether or not a 7 and 11 year old would get into it.

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