Late last fall (post-Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas), we got a note from school. The 4th grade teachers were sending an SOS to parents: your kids are restless and acting like goobers! We’re allllllmost to winter break, but HELP!

So — looking to be part of the solution — I sent a note back to Colt’s teacher asking about him specifically, so we could talk about any issues at home.

We got a reply that Colt wasn’t having any specific behavior issues (this time), but was carrying far too many books in his backpack and could we work on getting him down to 1-2 books.

So… too many books. Got it. After we had a good chuckle and relayed the story to his never-more-proud, retired librarian grandmother, we set to work getting The Backpack Library down to a manageable size.

It was tough to get a photo, but this is a sneak peak inside The Backpack Library — which is actually a stash of books borrowed from FOUR different libraries at any given time. He draws from his school library, his teacher’s classroom library, the Fayetteville Public Library, and – of course – his own personal library at home.

While getting ready for school the morning after the email exchange with his teacher, it was time to tame the beast.

“Buddy, how many books are in there?”

Sheepishly, “eleven…”

“You can take three books to school. Let’s get it down to three. Go.”

10 minutes passed while everyone went about their morning routines.

“Ok. Which three books made the final cut?”

“I got it down to four.”

And after he systematically explained the necessity of each book, the negotiation indeed landed on four.

Point – Colt.

Over the last year, I realized I hadn’t been taking as many “every day” photos of Colt at this age, and — like every age — I wanted to capture his habits and hobbies and all the little things that make up his days. So I started snapping photos of him during downtime and on weekends — and as I sat down today to capture these stories about just how much this little rascal looooooooves to read I realized just how many of those every day photos are of his nose in a book!

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.  ― Dr. Seuss

Then last week, after hearing “I have nothing to reeeeeead” the way a teenage girl complains in front of a closet of clothes, I realized he’d nearly read us out of house and home.

He and I settled in on the floor of his bedroom, face-to-face with his overflowing bookshelf. There, in front of dozens of books, just in time for a book drive at his school, I offered to help him purge and I thought we’d start small.

Instead of getting rid of every book he’s already read (probably all of them…), I scanned the spines and told him, “ok, just choose ten.” And I walked away.

After what I knew was PLENTY of time to choose ten books, I went back in to find him sadly holding five books.

“Did you choose your first ten?”

“I can’t do it.”

“I thought you said you’ve read most of these.”

“I have.” *pause* “But… they mean a lot to me.”


THEN, he comes out with the information that the five books he chose only made it into the donate pile because they are books OF WHICH HE HAS TWO COPIES.

So if you’re keeping track here — that’s a net purge of exactly zero books.

He triumphed, for now, and gets to keep all the books because how do you force a child to get rid of books?? Those five books will go to the school book drive, and I’ll stop googling “is my child a hoarder?” and we’ll keep from having to build book-storing additions to the house by frequenting the public library.

And I’ll try to have some perspective about the razor-thin line between my favorite bookworm’s love of READING and love of BOOKS.

You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy books and that’s kinda the same thing.

4 thoughts on “All the books

    1. I miss you, friend! I’m loving your snowy adventures up north!

  1. Such a cute story, Sarah! You really have something to be proud of—a kid that reads! Wow, there are SO many worse things he could do. I see that he is wearing a Fitbit in the photos, so I suspect that he is also doing athletic things. Good for Colt!!

    Wonder if he will suffer more when all of his reading books are online instead of in hard copy? Like him, it is hard for me to get rid of books. But for me, I am saying, “I know I will have time to read this some day”!

    1. Thanks so much, Sylvia! We are certainly proud of him and I smile from ear to ear when I “catch him” reading! Yes, he wears a FitBit, too — he’s a very active kid. We’re gearing up for baseball season now having just finished basketball. We don’t sit still for long around here!

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