“What does one do with the boxes of wonderful old books that your kids loved and enjoyed and that are SO hard to toss? Do I save them on the outside chance that there will be grandchildren one day? Or?”
Such a great question, and one I hear quite often. Those velveteen rabbits of books are often not in the best shape. Years of reading and rereading have torn their pages and loosened their spines. Sometimes the covers hang by a thread or they’ve been taped. The books are smudged all over with tiny fingerprints and decorated with grape juice stains. Will Goodwill take them or will they be deemed too worn out to sell and pass on the magic?
Objectively, if they’re too beat-up to donate, they’ve served their purpose and can be laid to rest in the recycling bin or the trash. But we humans anthropomorphize our things, and the thought of consigning these treasures to the bin probably has you reaching for your phone to me know exactly what kind of cold-blooded reptile of an organizer you think I am.
Hear me out
I know the books feel like friends. They’re so familiar and just the sight of Goodnight Moon can make you feel like you’re right there, tucked into the comfy chair reading with your child again. Missing those happy days can make you want to recreate them.
And if you have a handful, why not? They don’t take up much space in a sentiment box or on a shelf and they can bring a smile to your face when you come across them.
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But when you have boxes and boxes of these old books and the grandchildren are yet to come, consider going through the boxes one more time and pulling out the top five or so. Keep the ones that you loved reading, that your kids always asked for, but narrow it down to a manageable few. Five or less.
How to remember
Now make a list of all the others, the ones that didn’t make this final cut but you still enjoyed. It can be all fancy on a spreadsheet or you can jot it down on the back of an envelope. Names, titles, ISBN numbers if you feel like it.
Now your brain knows you could easily get those books again if you ever wanted to.
Which frees you to let them go now, and discover the next generation’s favorites with them when the time comes.
READ MORE >>> Three games to help you declutter books
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Read them one more time
If you want to keep them because you loved reading them aloud, your challenge is to find some children to read to. Library story times are good, so are neighboring kids whose parents who would love a few minutes to themselves while you read to their kids.
Oh, and depending on your point of view, these books aren’t actually yours anyway. Ask your kids if they want to keep any of their old books, and let them carry the memories forward themselves. If they don’t want them, full permission to claim your top five and tuck them away in your sentiment box.