Books are Treasures - Baby Steps in High Heels

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Books are Treasures

“But do you looooove Daddy?” she asked in that silly, singsong way that kids do when they think something is simultaneously hilarious and disgusting.

“Of course I love Daddy!” I replied on our drive to school one morning.

After she giggled a bit more and declared us to be so gross, she then asked what made me love Daddy so much. There are many reasons, of course, why I love him, and I listed off a few of the more obvious ones.

And, because we were on our way to school, it occurred to me that I should share a piece of our story that I also hoped would underscore our love for learning. So I said, “My sweet girl, do you want to know what your daddy said to me shortly after we met that made me realize he was special? That I was really going to love him.”

“Um, I guess so,” she replied. Her interest in our conversation was already waning, but I pressed on.

“He told me that books are treasures. And that’s when I knew that I could really love this man.”

I think we had been discussing e-books versus hard copies, and we both preferred the feel of a book in our hands to the glowing screen of a tablet. To this day, we both enjoy a mix of “real” books as well as the titles we order online, but there is something so much more gratifying when you can hold a book in your hands, turning the pages one by one. I love when my favorites become weathered from repeated use. As much as we treasure them, those many dog-eared pages and crinkled covers are sure signs of our love for that particular story.

If you’re an avid reader, you know the joy that it is to lose yourself in a book, to know characters as if they’re your best friend (or worst enemy), to connect to a plot as though it were a memory from your own life. You’ve prepared extra coffee for the next morning, because you know that you will be up all night with a book you just cannot put down.

We love to read, and we have always read to the kids, even since before they were born. Of course, with our first, we did so intentionally – reading Dr. Seuss to my pregnant belly. With our second child, the stories he heard in-utero were the ones we read to his sister at bedtime. We have done our best to foster a love for reading in our children that would connect their hearts to the written word the same as ours have always been.

Somewhere along the way, I read that a great way to nurture a love for books is to teach children about the physical object themselves. Truth be told, I had never really considered this before, but it made sense to me. I’ve worked in publishing for the majority of my adult life. Books are my business, but I treasure them, as well. I love holding a freshly printed book in my hands, being the first {the only} one who will turn the pages of that particular volume.

I started with simple components that the kids could easily relate to …

This is the spine of the book. It binds the pages and holds the book together. We took turns looking at the spine of the book and then the spines on our backs.

This is the jacket of the book. It fits over the cover of the book just like your jacket fits over your arms. It is there to protect what is inside.

We talked about other aspects of what makes a book—the Table of Contents outlines the story; the publisher takes the story from an idea to print.

And, of course, we discussed the author and the illustrator. The author writes the words to the story. The author makes the story, the kids still say. The illustrator makes the pictures.

I have had so much fun diving into this information with the kids. It helps me relate my job to them, as well, and it gives them an opportunity to understand that books do not simply appear on their shelf.

There is a process. From the inception of an idea in an author’s head, there are then steps to take before a book is actually created. We talk about writing a draft, submitting a manuscript, editing and production, printing and binding, the entire publishing process.

It has helped to explain the beauty of a book, and why we treasure the physical object as much as the story. This is why we don’t stand on books, I often find myself saying to the kids. We must cherish them.

I love a lot of the classics. The Great Gatsby is one of my all-time favorites, and I have read and reread many Jane Austen novels half a dozen times. I also love a good beach read that I can devour in just a few hours.

Husband reads high fantasy and had finished every available George R.R. Martin book before the rest of the world had ever heard of Game of Thrones.

My oldest, an emerging reader, is starting to enjoy chapter books like Amelia Bedelia and The Never Girls, and some of our favorites from her younger years include The Little Bitty Bakery and all things Fancy Nancy.

And, our boy loves anything to do with trucks, trains, tractors, farm animals, or dinosaurs. The Little Blue Truck and The Goodnight Train are family favorites, and I could probably recite The Big Red Barn on command.

We are forever building our library, and we would love to hear about your family’s favorite books. 

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