I won’t borrow a book from you. If you absolutely, positively insist, I’ll accept your book and take it home. Once home, I’ll stash it somewhere until I can get my own copy. Then I’ll return yours. Why? Because I love to destroy books.
That’s putting it too strongly. What I mean is this: If I love a book, it shows. Spaghetti sauce stains. Cocoa dust. Bits of paper tucked in here and there. I read while I cook, while I eat, and while I shower. That’s right. In. The. Shower. I am an all-terrain reader.
In college, I took a one-day class on book restoration. It was fascinating. I loved to handle the old books with their embossed leather bindings and gilded edges. They were beautiful and worthy of painstaking preservation. They would not, however, lend themselves to my habit of of reading-while-doing.
I think kids need books they can destroy. Books that can be chewed, scribbled in, left outside, loved. They need books that belong to them. If books are always owned by someone else–an adult, a school, a library–the reader is compelled to think of the preservation of the object as well as the enjoyment of the content. That’s okay sometimes. It’s not okay all the time.
Take it from me, the shower reader. Let your kids take their books in the rain, under the sprinkler, into the tub. Books are durable. A dousing of water won’t hurt and usually improves them. The book will dry out and the ruffled pages will be even easier to read.
Enjoy the day.