There is no frigate like a book
To take us lands away,
Nor any coursers like a page
Of prancing poetry.
This traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of toll;
How frugal is the chariot
That bears a human soul !
My books have a home.
They aren’t on basement shelves in different groups or in boxes or containers. They are no longer mixed together and neglected nor is a certain book impossible to find. My children’s book collection has been categorized, organized and incorporated into the space where I love to be. Brer Rabbit would call my space a brier patch but most young people would have no idea what that meant. The Tales of Uncle Remus and Walt Disney’s Song of the South were long before their time. Did you know that both the book and the movie made from some of its tales were once “banned” ?
See. That’s why we read.
These are my new book cases. There are six. They reach almost to the ceiling and are touching each other to look like a library wall. Grandpa braced each book case to the wall so that none of them can can come tumbling down should a toddler decide to climb.
There are many ways to organize books. I looked at the creative ways other people have done so and chose the best approach for me. I rejected the idea of organizing by color of the book cover without even blinking. Yes. I saw many libraries on the Internet with books organized by color. In that case, it wouldn’t matter which books a person had on their shelves. Some people cover all of their books with paper of the same color and write the title on the paper. That idea left me feeling quite bland and wondering what beautiful and interesting covers might be lurking behind the paper.
I am drawn to the cover of a book first.
Most books in home libraries I browsed on the Internet were sorted by author and some by topic. I decided on a combination of Author/Illustrator and Topic. I put my collection together for my own liking so I made it easy for me to find a book, add a book or share a book.
All of the books currently on my shelves are hard back. Paper back books are still elsewhere. For example, most of my books by Roald Dahl, author of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach, are paperback. Last year I re-read each one including The Twits, The Magic Finger, The Witches and Matilda. I re-read The BFG ( Big Friendly Giant) before I took my grandchildren to the movie. Wow. What a beautiful movie. I read a book about Mr. Dahl which added great appreciation to the reading of his books. It said that he wrote his stories for his children and liked to show the children as being in charge and getting the better of mean adults. He liked to do impossible things which children never think are impossible. Oh, I loved the Big Friendly Giant’s face !
I display the books horizontally for two reasons. The first is that I can use all of the space available and the second is that I don’t kink my neck by having to turn my head to read the titles. I have tried to put very large books at the bottom but that doesn’t always work. The books at the bottom are in truth harder to pull out. That is the only disadvantage I see to sorting horizontally. Above is an example of a section of the “M”s. These are either books with an M surname for the Illustrator OR the Author. I sorted based on why I collected the book in the first place. I have collected primarily for my love of the Illustrator. Mercer Mayer, for example, is primarily an illustrator but can be the author, too. I have a cross-section of contemporary illustrators and older/vintage illustrators such as Mayer. McPhail, McCully and Munsinger are contemporary.
The categories I have sorted to include Picture Books, Fables, Fairy Tales, Bedtime Stories, Poems, Reference, Christmas, Holidays, Manners, Spiritual, Pioneers, Classics, Animals and a few more. If there is a category then there are many books.
Some categories have many, many books. One such category is PICTURE BOOKS. Chris Van Allsburg is a good example of an author/illustrator who creates picture books AND incredible stories. His works include The Polar Express, Zathura, Jumanji, The Wreck of the Zepher, The Sweetest Fig and many more. I put a few of his books in the Picture Book group and the others in the “V” section of the collection. I know to look in the Picture Book section for any book that I can’t find readily, alphabetically. I simply can’t choose favorites ( but if I could ) his books would be on the list.
The very scary Jumanji game comes to life.
The movie departs from the original.
The book is best.
His book Zathura is also a story about a game
and is very exciting.
Tasha Tudor books are very collectible. They are also very hard to find. This is the oldest Tudor book I have and it was once a school library book . Its spine is weak but its illustrations are priceless. I can put books such as this one either in the Christmas Books or in the “T”s.
( Above is one page from the Tasha Tudor Christmas Book )
Ahhh. The Classics.
I have tried to collect multiple versions of several of my favorite stories. For example, there are two versions of Pinocchio which are my favorites from an illustration point of view. I have about 10 different versions of this classic by different illustrators. One is shown above by Roberto Innocenti and the other is illustrated by Robert Ingpen. I have yet to find any Ingpen – illustrated book at a thrift store. His illustrated classics can be bought on Amazon but they are pricey and are of course re-prints. Nevertheless, I am tempted. The book shown above came from a school library and was discarded. It contains page after page of beautiful illustrations. Most people in my age group remember the Disney version of Pinocchio but it is heaven to read the story as Collodi meant it to be.
( One of the full-page illustrations by Innocenti )
There are several illustrators whose books I have purchased. Among them is this one by Aaron Becker. His books are all in Picture Books. I realize that my criteria for putting a book in this category is whether or not I enjoy looking at the illustrations without reading the words.
Today’s illustrators of children’s books are so talented and draw/paint in so many different styles. Below is a page from the book Journey.
Here are some examples of different kinds of books in my collection. These books are generally older books. I have about twenty “music” books which are full of delightful, old songs. A few are from the 1930s. Below is a look at an old-fashioned song with wonderful illustrations:
READERS AND STORY BOOKS
I have LOTS of early readers and story books like the one above. Some are very elementary and others are for more advanced readers. They are delightful to read and bring back childhood memories. Early books and readers often had beautiful “end papers” like this book does. End papers were often the work of very talented illustrators in books from the 1950s and before. These end papers display many of the illustrations from within the book and give clues to what the child will read about.
A Place to Read
I have tried to make “a place to read” cozy. We always talk about “curling up” with a good book. We don’t say “sitting on the floor” with a good book or “walking around” with a good book.
Nope. We curl up.
This little step stool gets anyone to the top shelf without any trouble. Anyone except really little people and the books they would most like are on the shelves they can reach. In my collection are many Golden Books and other little books I call “tiny treasures”. They are on the bottom shelves in baskets.
I put all of the readers and novels for young people on the top shelf of each book case. Those who would be likely to want to read one of these can reach them easily with the stool.
There’s no end to what I could say about children’s books. I think that I have said enough. You don’t need a library card to borrow my books but don’t forget to return them. Oh. And be kind to them. I love this quote:
“You can’t keep my books but you can keep the ideas.”
( I am making some “put back” cards for the children to slide in the spot
where they have pulled out a book. )