February 5, 2016

Weeding Your Collection: Picture Books

Okay, I've given you a couple weeks for a break. Now it's time to dive into those picture books!

As you may recall, I am a children's librarian. Picture books are near and dear to my heart. As such, it can be hard to let them go. However, as we've mentioned, there are only so many bookshelves you can fit into one house! Also, as my kids get older and learn to read, the picture book shelf has not been frequented as often. [Sad face.]
When it comes to weeding them, as long as my favorites are safely in the "keeper" pile, I am content to let the kids decide on the rest. I've included a few different methods for having your kids help you sort at the end of the post.  

Let's get started! 

Questions to ask yourself for picture books:

What kind of shape is it in?
This is an easy one. Are there scribbles on crucial pages? Is the cover missing, or a chunk of pages falling out? Going along with that, is it fixable? If yes, is it worth your time to fix it?
Is it appropriate for the age and attention span-level of the children listening to it?
Some picture books are basically illustrated chapter books, with long detailed storylines and/or more mature themes. Many of Patricia Polacco's fall into this category. These can still be great books to keep--if your older kids will enjoy it and pick it up. Consider shelving it in a different spot for them to have easier access, so they don’t have to wade through the preschool-aged ones. Your little guys will also do better without the longer books cluttering up their shelf space.

Does the underlying message or the artwork make you cringe? Or, is it too scary or intense for your kids?  
Remember, your home collection will likely get read many times over and become a part of your child’s mental wiring. (No pressure!) You know your kids best. Don't be afraid to pull something out, even if it's famous, an award-winner, or your neighbor's absolute favorite.

A few examples from my own bookshelf:

At one point, we had a picture-book version of “Who Stole the Cookies from the Cookie Jar.” The illustrations were well done and engaging, and of course that catchy rhyme was on nearly every page. It was my husband who asked, “Do we really want to be reading a book to our kids over and over that makes stealing something into a game?” When he put it in that context--um…right. No, no we didn’t.

Even though I personally quite like “Where the Wild Things Are,” it was too scary for my oldest son as a preschooler. It actually gave him nightmares, and unfortunately it took us several days to put together his garbled explanations with that particular book. When we finally figured it out, that book was donated. Many Halloween picture books fall into the same category for us: just not worth the long nights. 

Does it come with parts or pieces that won’t stay put or are lost?
We had a book one time where each spread included text on one page, and a puzzle on the facing page. That was all well and good, except that any time you turned the page, the puzzle you just finished would fall apart all over the floor! Yeah. That one did not last very long. My sanity has to count for something!

Do they still enjoy it even after many (many MANY) reads?
You know the ones. Notice I'm not asking if YOU enjoy it after reading it a million times. :)

Is it one you remember fondly, or was a favorite of yours as a kid?

So, you’ve gone through the rough sort and gotten rid of the obvious stuff. Also, your kids have probably pulled some out of the pile exclaiming, “Hey! I’ve been looking for this one!” Yep, those are keepers. What do you do with all the rest? I would definitely let the kids be involved. They have a stake in the outcome, after all!
Here are a couple of ideas:

The “Take-A-Vote” Method

Pile all the picture books onto a table. Get the kids to help right from the start!

Pull out all the favorites (including yours!) for the keeper pile. 

Now here's the fun part. Take one book at a time, and take a vote: thumbs up, thumbs down, or eh—don’t care either way.  Get them talking! They may talk each other into or out of certain books without your interference at all. With their favorites safe in the “must keep” pile, the rest should be less emotionally charged (in theory…)

Depending on the way your family works, you’ll have to decide your own rules about how many thumbs can veto the majority, or how to handle a tied vote.

If your family is not quite ready for the democratic process yet, or every book is someone’s “absolute favorite,” here’s another way to do it.

The “Convince Me” Method

You go through the picture books first (perhaps while kids are in bed?)
Make a keeper pile, a donation pile, and a “convince me” pile. The "convince me" pile are books that you wouldn't mind getting rid of, but are willing to listen to reasons for keeping. Then bring in the kids.
Here's the deal:
If some of their favorites ended up in the “convince me” pile, they are welcome to plead their case.
(I’m pretty much a pushover when it comes to this—if they feel passionate enough about the book to pluck it from the jaws of possible donation, there’s a good chance we’re going to keep it.)
If they want to rescue a book from the donation pile, however, they have to trade it for one of their choice from the “convince me” pile.
 Any “convince me’s” leftover at the end get added to the donation pile.

 The “It’s Not Goodbye, It’s See You Later” Method

This is the kinder, gentler book sorting method--if you have the space, time, and patience for it.
Get out a bin or a box and have the kids help you fill it up. You could tell them each to grab 10 books, or something. Tape it closed or put on the lid, and put it away for 3-6 months.
Notice if the kids ask about any of the books or miss them during that time frame. When it comes time to bring the box down, notice which books are met with delight and which stay untouched in the bottom of the box. Give away the unloved books and start over.

Once my kids realized that I wasn’t out to give away their favorites, they've actually been happy to join in the sorting process. Last time we did it, we got rid of 15-20 books. It made so much difference! We could pull out a book without 3 more cascading down. 

Do you have a tried and true book sorting method? Do your kids help you decide what to get rid of? Please share in the comments!


No comments:

Post a Comment