Saturday, January 23, 2016

Why Books are the Best Furniture by Stephanie Cohen

My son walked in from school the other day, a new book from the library tucked under one arm.
“What’s the book about?” I asked.
“A book on the Alamo,” he replied. “The librarian said it was beyond my level.”
“What did you say?” I asked.
“Ahhhh . . . I just took it out anyway,” was his answer.
He’s about a third of the way through the book—his second on this subject. I don’t fault the librarian for making assumptions about what an eight year old can or might want to read. In fact, I appreciate her engaging him about his reading and trying to guide him as he sifts through the school’s book collection.
A collection of books—whether it numbers 200 or 20,000—can be intimidating. It’s like a rainforest with multiple under-layers. The luckiest children are guided—by friends, parents, teachers, uncles and aunts, grandparents, and librarians—to find the small treasures hidden beneath the top canopy of popular, bestselling fiction.
A recent BBC article asked, “Is there still any point collecting books?” in the age of wireless e-readers and digital libraries that require no square footage. The answer is probably no if your family has migrated into the increasingly popular “micro-home.” But read through the biographies of some of the country’s greatest intellectuals, leaders, and authors, and you will begin to get a sense of just how important the presence of book collections are to anyone yearning for enlightenment.
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