I don't care about these three books:
But I want to keep these three books:
For me, it’s the memories trapped in old picture books that are important. I think that books are like photographs – we often forget the past until we see photographs or 'important' books. They’re a catalyst for memories.
So why not keep the first three books? Being a bit of a hoarder I suspect I will leave them on the shelf, but I have no emotional attachment to them. They evoke no memories and I feel uncomfortable with the Teddy Bear Picture Book (for obvious reasons). By the way, I've just noticed all three unwanted books include trains, so I can’t have been a big fan of engines!
Instead, I prefer to keep slightly embarrassing books like The Party. Good grief, what’s wrong with me?! Nowadays people mock these ‘Susan and John’ Ladybird books. Ho hum, at the time I adored this book. There were party dresses, cake, games and shiny patent leather shoes (or in my case, shiny plastic party shoes that quickly became too small). Going to a party was EXCITING! I liked looking at the pictures and on many pages I tried writing letters (and failed).
Then there’s My Book of Kittens and Puppies that even my mother disliked. Well, despite another dubious cover, I thought this book from my grandma was wonderful. Where else would I see things like cute dogs and cats getting married? Great!
Yikes, I've just realised I'm disinterested in books that include train engines, yet I want to keep girly books about parties, animals in cute clothes, and a naughty little chick who drives her mummy to distraction (Mother Hen & Mary), but what the chick really wants is to grow into a big hen like Mummy and lay eggs. Sigh. It sounds like I was a real girly girl, but I also loved dinosaurs, playing with my toy garage and cars, and was so excited when my dad let me use an air gun. However, the girl/boy debate is not the aim of this blog.
So what’s the point of this blog, apart from being a blast from the past? I suppose it’s a plea to not throw out your children’s old picture books without asking them what they’d like to keep (and then listening to them!). I believe picture books are an important part of childhood. Some images stay in the memory forever and stories can have a strong emotional resonance.
When I was five I was given British Fairy Tales (Amabel Williams-Ellis) and I've never forgotten the magical dancing beneath the hill (especially when I visited Glastonbury Tor, twenty years later!).
Unfortunately though, some books evoke slightly sadder memories. My heart would break for the lonely donkey in Little Grey Donkey (Alice Lunt/Tibor Gergely). Whilst I enjoyed Little Bear playing with Father Bear in Good Night Little Bear (Patsy Scarry/Richard Scarry), but I always felt sad that my mummy didn't get on with my daddy as well as Father Bear and Mother Bear. So should I throw out these books and forget? I don’t know.
I often hear of adults buying new editions of old books because their parents have thrown away a childhood book that meant a lot to them, but the parents didn't know. Sadly, it’s never the same as the original. I smile when I see my mother's colouring in of her Winnie the Pooh book. A book may be torn and covered in scribbles, or may be of debatable literary worth, but who cares about this if it also cradles important memories? Or am I just a hoarder? What do you think?