This post is all about how I resist spending a lot of money on picture books.
Run far and hide your eyes if you think this will help you save money. It won’t.
Confession #1 I am terrible at not buying books.
Confession #2 I will actually likely use this post to try to influence your book spending (costing you, not saving you money, to be clear)
Confession #3 I have absolutely no advice on how to not buy books.
Confession #4 I lured you here under false pretenses with that title
Confession #5 This post isn’t about that at all
Is this where I should be having people sign a waiver?
I will now stop numbering the confessions as I reveal a lot of things about my relationship with book ownership. You might start to think about some particular adjectives: compulsive, addicted, hopeless, done for. That’s okay. I am not in any kind of denial about this.
To begin, I often dream about books. There are days where I wake up and think, I really need a bookstore visit. The craving gets worse if I ignore it. It is often fuelled by strong coffee. There is a bookstore that takes me 14 minutes to walk to and I pass a number of coffee places along the way. I am sure you know how that ends.
There is also a dedicated children’s book store in Vancouver called Kidsbooks. As you might imagine, I love it. It takes me longer to get to than 14 minutes. Thankfully, I can’t walk. Well, at least not walk home with a bag full of newly acquired books. When I enter this bookstore, I walk around the store a few times before I let myself touch any book. I need to absorb it all. I will be here for a while. This circling lets me plan my browsing. Then I begin to gather a pile. Before I sit to read and make choices, I consult a list (of course I have a list – I have a book of lists!) to make sure I haven’t missed anything. Then I begin to read. Usually, I get up many more times because I have remembered some other “must look at” title. Yes, a visit here always takes a while. A wonderful while.
Certain book lists and blogs do me in. Travis Jonker (of 100 Scope Notes) does preview posts by publishers and seasons. I resist opening these emails. To call my resistance futile, big understatement. Dylan Teut (who blogs at Mile High Reading) just completed Part 5 of 2016 picture book releases. You realize that means there are four other lists! He actually alerts me on twitter every time he publishes a new part! It is rare that I can read reviews by Margie Myers-Culver of Librarian’s Quest or Donna McKinnon of 32 pages and not come away wanting at least one book. Minh Le of Bottom Shelf Books shares a best of the year post every year. I always check to see what I might have missed. His lists are amazing! Alyson Beecher sends me “Have you see this one?” tweets – usually beautiful new or soon to be released nonfiction titles. Almost always, I am convinced that they should soon be mine.
I also have specific rationales which I use to collect more books. These seem absolutely convincing. At least, they convince me every time. I am doing a Mock Caldecott unit? I really should own most of the titles. Books that make us laugh? Every classroom library needs more of these. Friendship themes? My students constantly ask for more. A title that gently tackles an important issue? Irresistable. Nonfiction is the worst. Sadly, too many of these books go out of print too quickly. If I like it and imagine using it with a class, I buy it. I am at a conference where the author or illustrator is signing? Do I really even need to explain this one?
Yes, yes, I do try all of those things others suggest. Those money saving things. They all backfire.
There is this one: Go to the public library. After all, those books are free. I do. I bring home stacks and stacks of books. I stalk the new releases display. I don’t even feel guilty when I empty most of it into my bag. We bring library books back after all. The thing is, when certain books are in my house for a while, I become certain, that I actually need them to reside there permanently. This means book shopping ahead.
How about: Read a number of titles while at the bookstore. It isn’t necessary to buy them all. This too, I do. And yes, of course, it helps shrink the list of “books that should probably be mine” but. . . Some books, when I leave them at the bookstore, call to me. I shouldn’t have left them. My advice on this is firm: when you fall in love, take them home or they will haunt you. Marilyn’s Monster did this to me. So did Sidewalk Flowers, Herman and Rosie, The Dog that Nino Didn’t Have, The Tea Party in the Woods . . . I remember the pull. I couldn’t fight it.
The “for the price of that book, you could have bought . . . ” strategy is completely ridiculous to me. Most things I might buy instead will be gone or wear out: coffee, dinner, new shoes, another pair of black jeans . . . Not much has the staying power of a picture book.
Sometimes, publishers send me books. This should mean I shop less. Books into my classroom = less shopping. Nope. I soon manipulate the logic. My thinking goes something like this: “I didn’t have to spend the time or money getting those books so I have more time or money to get these other books.” Books + more books = lots of books! See? Hopeless.
But this is the thing: every book that comes into my collection is shared. Sometimes, multiple times. I own each one because I love it. I have multiple reasons to read it or put it in the hands of a reader. I use each one to grow readers, to spread book love, to share an incredible story, to wow with a beautiful illustration, to create community. Books, in my world, the world of children, change everything. Picture books don’t cost me. They enrich my life and the life of my students in countless ways.
Book buying resistance? Thankfully, I have none.
I am participating in the Slice of Life challenge to write and publish a post every day in March.
Slice of Life is hosted by Two Writing Teachers. I thank them for the community they provide. Read more slices here.