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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How to Protect Your Library--Books Are Meant to be Loved

Reading to my dogs. Note the "red eyes." Sigh. Am I really demonic?
In this Sunday's New York Times, someone wrote into the Social Q's column with a question that illustrates life as we know it. Seems that "Anonymous in Vermont" had a calamity during the annual Christmas party. Thirty adults and 30 kids were in attendance. Unfortunately, one of the kids puked on Anonymous's e-reader--and ruined it. Now Anonymous wants to know, should he/she ask the parents of Up-Chuck to replace the e-reader?

Since our world seems to be dividing into two camps, those who love e-readers and those who abhor e-readers, I could almost hear the anti-e-reader camp cheering and shouting, "Boo-ya! If it had been a paperback, all would have been fine."

But that's not really true. Without getting too graphic, trust me when I say that if someone pukes on a paper product, it's ruined.

So what's the point here?

I Have Two Great Loves

I love paper and I love my e-reader. They both have their strong points and their weaknesses.

I like traditional books for research because I like to mark them up, use a highlighter and stick Post-It notes inside the book to mark passages I want to revisit. (I know that some of you are shuddering at the thought of marking up a book. My dear friend Chris Clark-Epstein taught me that a book is a resource. She suggested creating my own index in the front of a book so I could quickly find pertinent facts. It was one of those timely suggestions that really transformed my daily life.)

I love my e-reader because it holds so many books, it's easy to read at night (the light that's attached to the cover functions almost like a night light), and books are delivered immediately to me. (Which I admit is my idea of heaven--books that appear magically on request.)

Books Are Made to be Eaten

I once heard an interview with the son of the woman who wrote Pat the Bunny. He suggested that that his mother's book was a mega-seller ate it. Yes, he admitted that kids loved chewing on Pat the Bunny almost as much as they liked having it read to them.

I've kept all my son's books, and I can tell  you that many of them have been masticated. And yes, one was even puked on. Some have ripped pages. Some are discolored. All have been loved.


Keeping kids away from books is not a solution. Having a library of indestructible kids' books is.

Books are meant to be loved, and handled, and enjoyed. And occasionally...puked on.

To properly protect a kid's book, cover the pages with clear Contact paper. Then you can wipe them clean. Better yet, buy two copies. One for "loving" and one for the future.

I started to write: "Don't give them your e-reader without supervision." But after watching my grand-nephew toggle through my sister's iPhone, I can't suggest that. The next generation won't waste time thinking of books as "either/or." They'll simply accept that books will come in paper or in new formats.

After all, it's the content that counts.

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