Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Book Hoarding, Children, & Maurice

Some books you just can't donate.  

After years and years of unschooling, I've accumulated "a few" books. There are bookshelves in nearly every room. And, we're not talking about shelves that have a couple books artfully placed with a lovely vase next to them. I'm talking bookcases crammed full of books. Once the row is full, we've even wedged them on the tops vertically.

My kids, now nearly grown, have their own favorites stacked by the bed, on their dresser and in their own bookshelves. Yes. We're Book People.                  

But when the Bastrop fires happened last year, I felt for those homeschooling families that were dislocated and needing...EVERYTHING. At the same time, we had been watching the Hoarding shows, and my family kept looking my way.                              

"Those bookshelves, Mom! Sheesh!" was what I'd hear after each show.
And, "Who are you saving those books for?"

Sometimes I'd say, "Well, when you homeschool YOUR future kids, I will be prepared. I will have everything you need." But Ron would remind me, "Don't you think you could just pick a few favorites and then donate the rest? I mean, won't you want to buy nice NEW books for your grandchildren?" He had a point.

So I started sifting. Interestingly, when I sorted books and the kids were nearby, I'd ask them, "Keep or donate?"
"Little Bear series? Keep or donate" Alyssa would pipe up, "No, don't give that away!"
"Where the Wild Things Are?" No, that was Michael's favorite. Michael even went as Max for Halloween while he was in college, making his own costume... as usual.

We ended up keeping a lot more than we thought we would. While the internet and cable give us FABULOUS learning experiences, there's something about snuggling next to mom reading a familiar book at the end of the day.  I'm glad their memories of these books were as warm and fuzzy to them as they are to me. I don't think they'll ever forget the sound of Ron reading Hank the Cowdog to them. Something about being born and raised in Mesquite, Texas gives you an accent perfect for that series.

 I did give a way quite a few books - several rubbermaid tubs full. Yet, still, we kept several rubbermaids full too, just loaded them into storage. Did Ron really think we'd be able to limit it to one or two each? ha! Who knows how they'll feel about them when (way) down the road they have children and want to share their favorite books? But, there I'll be...fully prepared.

The passing of Maurice Sendak reminds me of how much we loved his books. Some authors just connect with you and he was one of them. Listening to his interviews over the years and seeing the quotes on the internet remind me that he had respect for children that we don't always see. He didn't talk down to them or give any kind of belittling of childish ways. Reading his books and understanding the messages he was saying had a ripple effect that I think would have pleased him.  I'm sure people will continue to enjoy his work for years to come.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Maurice Sendak - some from interviews, some directly from the books.

"I believe there is no part of our lives, our adult as well as child life, when we're not fantasizing, but we prefer to relegate fantasy to children, as though it were some tomfoolery only fit for the immature minds of the young. Children do live in fantasy and reality; they move back and forth very easily in a way we no longer remember how to do."
"Children are willing to expose themselves to experiences. We aren't. Grownups always say they protect their children, but they're really protecting themselves. Besides, you can't protect children. They know everything."
“. . .from their earliest years children live on familiar terms with disrupting emotions, fear and anxiety are an intrinsic part of their everyday lives, they continually cope with frustrations as best they can. And it is through fantasy that children achieve catharsis. It is the best means they have for taming Wild Things.” 
“Peter Rabbit, for all its gentle tininess, loudly proclaims that no story is worth the writing, no picture worth the making, if it is not a work of imagination.” 
“I think it is unnatural to think that there is such a thing as a blue-sky, white-clouded happy childhood for anybody. Childhood is a very, very tricky business of surviving it. Because if one thing goes wrong or anything goes wrong, and usually something goes wrong, then you are compromised as a human being. You're going to trip over that for a good part of your life.” 
“If there's anything I'm proud of in my work--it's not that I draw better; there's so many better graphic artists than me--or that I write better, no. It's--and I'm not saying I know the truth, because what the hell is that? But what I got from Ruth and Dave, a kind of fierce honesty, to not let the kid down, to not let the kid get punished, to not suffer the child to be dealt with in a boring, simpering, crushing-of-the-spirit kind of way.” 
"And Max, the king of all wild things, was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all."
“But the wild things cried, “Oh please don’t go - we’ll eat you up - we love you so!”And Max said, “No!”The wild things roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws but Max stepped into his private boat and waved goodbye.” 
“And [he] sailed back over a year
and in and out of weeks
and through a day
and into the night of his very own room
where he found his supper waiting for him
and it was still hot” 

Stephen Cobert did a very funny interview with Maurice Sendak recently. It's in two parts:


Cap'n Franko said...

He will be missed but he lives on in our hearts and on our bookshelves... and on the coffee table, and the nightstand, and the diningroom table, and the kitchen table, and... what's that on the floor?

Sue said...

When we lived in California, I had a friend who used to say, "No flat surface is safe in this house! It's IMMEDIATELY filled!" True. So true! ha!