For a while, I gobbled up books wherever I could find them. I grabbed them up at swaps, thrift stores, library surplus sales, school rummage sales and garage sales. I wanted a library in my front room and in each bedroom, a literal literary immersion.
The idea was to surround them with words, stories, and ideas. But I began to realized the amassing approach wasn't really serving anyone. The boys were not any more likely to take them off the shelf on their own when there were hundreds and hundreds of them, and I tended to still pull my and their favorites, settling always into a quality over quantity approach.
So, I started sorting. I went through over the course of several weeks and identified favorite stories, themes, and illustrations, and I boxed up those that were less well loved among our holdings. I brought the box up to church for the nursery, and this remained:
Top shelf: story books, folk tales, poetry, art and museums
Middle shelf: history, architecture, board books, Fox's favorite story books
Bottom shelf: animals, dinosaurs, comics, science and nature, and machines
Not pictured: pop-up books and a handful of oversized books
What I was left with is more or less the Honey House Greatest Hits of Children's Books. This, coupled with biweekly to monthly trips to the library where we read some and check some out, works pretty well for us. Books are by far the most popular gifts from friends and family, who usually give their own favorites or ones they think the boys will like, so the collection expands from their generosity, too. I still keep an eye out for books at thrift stores and other places where they're likely to be quite cheap, but I also save to be able to buy a handful of really great books from the bookstore a couple of times a year, usually the Eyewitness books, hardback versions of much beloved storybooks, or really cool pop-up books.
Fox is just now--and really, just barely--at the point where he is not likely to grab a page and rip it out if he gets frustrated about something while we're reading together. He's fast and fiesty, and reading often ended with tears and grumblings in the last two years. I regret that I seldom found a way to read with Woody more while getting Fox's needs met also, but maybe that's the challenge for any number of activities in a family that includes an intense and highly spirited child. Either way, nowadays Fox and Woody are equally likely to bring me books to read or to sit down with me when I've brought a stack over to the couch.
And of course, since it is a common phenomenon among children for them to want to take part in whatever it is that is engrossing the adults in their lives--we spent the late hours of the morning selecting books from the newly tidied bookshelf to read together and separately.