Making Room for Reading

I have purged Little CAT’s book collection. It may be contradictory for the purpose, but I did it to get LC back to reading again and to reading new books.

When LC was born, I envisioned him growing up to love reading and learning. So at 5 months old we started reading him books regularly. We read to him several times and at anytime of the day. We read to him animatedly, with voice intonations, hand gestures and that kind of pizzaz. He embraced and loved the experience. A lot of times he’d wake up, pick a book by our bedside and demands to be read to even if Hubby and I were still sleeping. Afternoons would come past with us reading books the whole while. Evenings were a struggle between reading the same book for the nth time and finally sleeping. It was me and hubby who used to give up from all the reading. I blogged once about our “reading marathons” here.

Seeing how LC has come to love reading was very encouraging for us. So from 3 books gifted to him since he was born, his collection grew.

Book collection by the bedside

And grew.

As LC collection of books grew, we moved them to their own proper place.

And grew even more.

This was LC’s corner when we were newly settled in our apartment. Books occupied most of the bookshelves lain on their sides and stacked upon the other.

There are more of his books in a separate storage, but the ones in these pictures are the ones he has ready access. Most of the books stored were books he has outgrown and books reserved when he’s old enough to appreciate them.

I have to admit that for a time, I was already hoarding. One apparent instance was when I came home from last year’s Manila International Book Fair.

The mere sight and feel of books gave me pleasure. There’s also a part of me that felt I was in some sort of the-child-with-the-biggest-personal-library competition. I felt having a lot of books will prove something. Something like, “Look here! My very young child is sooo into books.” Or something like, “Baseline for a young book reader? That will be my son.”

Well, modesty aside it could have been true for us in the beginning. BUT unfortunately, it came to a point when it was all just for a show.

The more books I added to LC’s collection, the more I noticed how his interest in them declined. He seemed enthusiastic when I came home with a new book, but he never really opened them and asked to be read to. If and whenever we read him a new book, he would say ‘No’ and scramble to get one of his old and favorite books. Then there came a time when he’d ignore all the books for weeks. 😦

At first I was okay with it. We were all adapting to a new environment when we moved in to this apartment. Then I was – and still is – having a hard time juggling different tasks that I contented myself with domestic arts for LC’s learning. I also realized he’s a toddler already, more able and mobile than he was before. I have to accept that this is the stage when he’s busy exploring and discovering a lot of things. If he prefers those instead of books, I should probably let him be.

Fast forward to March this year, I had that nagging feeling. At that same time, I came across The Minimalists’ How I Got Rid of 2,000 Books and Started Reading More. Reading the article couldn’t have come at a very, very right time. The parting thoughts moved me a lot.

Now, I no longer own piles of books, but I read more than before. I enjoy each book, taking them in slowly, absorbing the knowledge, processing the information, contemplating their lessons. But I needn’t retain the physical book to get value from its words.

Think about it. How much value was I placing in those dusty 2,000 books I owned. Obviously, it was far more than their real value. The real value was in the words—in the action of reading—not in the physical books themselves.

There is no value in having a room full of books you don’t need — especially when other people can get value from those books… – Joshua Fields Millburn

So there I was, after decluttering LC’s corner, I did the same with his entire book collection. I did it several times and still doing it now. It’s not an overnight thing. I guess letting go will always be a tough process in whatever aspect in life. But in this case, it became easier with every succession. I have given away a lot of his books since then. Picture books. Forgettable books. Books he has outgrown. Books which content I’m not really happy about. Books too old for him.

De-stashing the entire collection was liberating for me. For LC and his corner on the other hand, there was an evident impact – aesthetically speaking and reading-wise.

As I’ve posted in “Less Toys Is More,” I mentioned that I have further down-sized the quantity of books readily available to him. Here was how it looked.

It was a dramatic change compared to the set-up when we first moved in our apartment. Definitely more aesthetically pleasing. As to the goal of making LC take notice of the books, I really have to say it was a success. Finally after a long while, on his own initiative, LC’s asking us to be read to. HOORAY!!! 🙂

BUT he still prefer his familiar books over the new ones. And knowing some of his all time favorite books are in the blue flowery box-slash-table, LC would also prefer reading those.

To address that, I made the selection on his shelves even more limited, and moved the books in the blue box up in the storage.

This is how our Little Cat’s corner in the living room looks now. I’ll be keeping this kind of set-up with the selection of books and toys in regular rotation with the ones stored.

The books on display are all new to him. I am happy to see he picks them up with interest now. I am also happy to say LC’s literary experience is growing and expanding again. Since he’s finally reading new books, it pleases me to know he has gained new vocabulary and concepts we otherwise haven’t thought or couldn’t explain much.

I may not be able to pinpoint the reason he lost interest in reading. It might have been the adjustment to the new environment or the toddler stage. The quantity of books at hand might have become overwhelming or unappealing to him. Maybe I wasn’t consistent and encouraging enough? Maybe all of the above reasons?

Whatever it was, I’m grateful I found a way to get through it. And even more grateful to finally have our dear Little Cat back to reading again and to reading new books. 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Making Room for Reading

  1. Your areas are sooooo neat! Galing! We too have an overflow of books and toys. And I have a hard time purging 😦 Oh, in case you still have books that you want to pass on, you may want to consider Silid Booklatan (https://www.facebook.com/SilidBooklatan). We’re working on putting up community reading rooms in Taguig now, and hopefully in Rizal and San Pablo next. We sure appreciate books!

    • Thanks Ree! LC’s area is Montessori and minimalist inspired. It’s a challenge to instill LC about using one toy/book at a time. He has to return the item before getting another one. We still have to remind him about it every now and then.

      With regards to purging the entire book collection, it was and still is a BIG process for me. But I’m dead set on keeping some of his books. 😉

      Thanks for referring Silid Booklatan. Will PM you. 🙂

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