With a family of 7 the idea of pursuing minimalism is almost laughable. There is nothing truly minimal about our family. Or our stuff. But it is even more important with a big family to be intentional about what we bring into our home. If one person has a birthday and gets one gift from each set of grandparents and aunts and uncles we suddenly have an influx of 7 new items into the house. 5 times a year. And that’s before a gift from mom and dad. So we try to limit and share and donate and avoid buying new things that aren’t needed. And then we see a book.
We recently had our school book fair and each kid was given $25 to spend, and they all came home with 4-5 new books. The money goes to the school after all…and they are books! It’s learning! So there’s 16+ new books to add to our full shelves.
With kids from 3-11 we haven’t really outgrown that many books yet. The kids have different tastes in reading. Our oldest loves fantasy, our 9 year old son loves history and non-fiction, our 7 year old is tearing through my old copies of The Baby Sitters Club (because we also have all the books from OUR childhoods.) Our 6 year old is a new reader which is even more complicated. The books she can read herself are simple with pictures and repetition…but she has an imagination like Pippi Longstocking and is hungry for chapter books of all kinds. And baby brother loves his board books with familiar characters, the picture books he receives are much adored gifts and anything that belonged to his big brother and sisters is cherished. We can part with very few residents of our book shelves without swapping for something new.
I am a former high school English teacher, so I have the books from my classroom library, and all my favorite books I’ve read through the years. I love a good non-fiction, and if someone I respect recommends a book I can’t wait to read it and know more about that person and what they love! Amazon makes the acquisition of books so easy now. I just have to hear about a book, and I can have it at my doorstep in 2 days. If I were an e-reader kind of a girl I supposed I could start reading even sooner. But I love the real thing. Pages and book covers and somewhere to put a bookmark and see how far I’ve come. All that said, my bookshelves are not nearly as extensive as my kids’ or my husband’s. I love books, but I didn’t grow up as much of a book owner. Libraries are my favorite place. So we don’t just own books, we are constantly retrieving new titles and bringing home old favorites to add into the mix. But my husband is a book OWNER. He buys a book without knowing if he will love it and keeps it for all time. Marie Kondo would be horrified.
So our bookshelves keep expanding. I recently bought two more shelves, thinking it would create space to grow into…but the truth is that it just brought some books off table tops and dressers and bedside tables and gave them a new home. And now the bookshelves are once again bursting at the seams.
I don’t know if my children fully grasp how fortunate they are to own books. To be surrounded by them. We talk about it. We donate our books that are deemed “outgrown” to our MOPS drive for teen moms and to our neighborhood’s little free library when we can, although we often read them to the point of broken bindings and lots of repair tape making them look a little worse for the wear. But at the end of the day I hope that the love of books takes them far in life…even when they are right here at home.