November 17, 2019 - Confessions of a Book-Hoarder
I have been called a Book-Hoarder although I prefer the term Bibliophile. I cannot walk through a bookstore without picking up at least one book. I also have a hard time getting rid of books. Which naturally, makes me a “collector” - not hoarder.
Last week was our school’s Fall Book Fair. Of course that meant I have added some titles to my class library. Books that kids have talked about wanting to read; new books by favorite authors; books on topics I know we will be exploring. The problem is that I am now literally out of space. As a 25+ year teacher, my class library has grown over the years. As a first-year teacher I remember raiding my daughter’s bookshelves for books she had outgrown in order to add them to my bare classroom bookshelves. In time, those shelves grew full and I remember requesting another bookshelf. And that was my pattern over the years. If the school had no spare shelves, I bought them myself. Rearranging the classroom each time to accommodate a bigger class library. Sometime even enlisting the help of my handy husband to build or repurpose shelves for my classroom. The shelves now wrap the entire perimeter of the classroom and there is literally no wall space left for any more bookshelves. I have reached saturation point.
Which puts me in the middle of quite the dilemma. Do I stop adding books to my collection? Do I begin to weed out books in order to create space for newer books? How do I decide which books go and which stay?
The books on my shelves are more than mere items. They have each taken on a life of their own. Each book is a living, breathing story. I remember when the book came into the classroom. I remember which kids enjoyed the book, what the theme was, and how the story may have been just what a specific student needed at specific time in their life. I remember discussions about the characters, or sharing impressions about the plot. I remember which kids finished a specific book and then HAD to find their friend to tell them that they HAD to read this book next. Some books have been through so many readings, that their binding is now held together with tape. Like the Velveteen Rabbit, to me the book’s wounds are proof of it being loved.
Some books remind me of former students. I remember the student with such a passion for outer space that I added quite a few Solar System books that year. Those books have sparked the interest of other students over the years. I recall how a book’s theme really resonated with a specific student or how they developed a real connection to a character. When a current student picks up that book to read it, I am immediately reminded of the now-adult, somewhere out there. Which is why it is hard for me to get rid of books. No matter how old and tattered they may be.
I am trying though…. Since there is no more wall space and no more shelf space, I decided to start a “Looking for a New Home” box. A box where I will put some of the books that will no longer be a part of my class library, but which I hope will be snapped up by a student, taken home, and added to their home book shelf. Kind of like a stray-pet adoption program.
The hard part is now deciding which books to put into that box….