I’m a bit of a neat freak. I like order and cleanliness, sometimes to a fault, if I’m being honest. But I can’t help it; messes make me crazy, stress me out. Combine that need for a clutter-free house and my love of books and you can imagine my distress each time my kids decided to take all their books off the shelves and play with them. Not sit down nicely and read, but spread them all over the room or even all throughout the house.
All I could think about was the mess I would have to clean up and the possibility that a book would get ripped or damaged. But, stuck behind old habits, I was missing the bigger picture. I was thinking like an adult, not a kid.
One day it finally hit me: my kids play with their books because they love them.
Kids are all about play. Play is how they learn, experience and create memories. If more of those experiences and memories include books than their love for books can grow. And what more could I want for my kids.
Last week all three of them were deeply engrossed for almost an hour, taking all their books off the shelves and piling them on the couch. Not only did they pile them, they sorted them by paper books, board books and hard books. I was quite impressed by and proud of that – just think of all the learning skills they were employing in their fun. They then proceeded to play library and check out books to each other.
It was adorable and again it struck me how important it was to let them do that, to let them play with books.
So now, despite the mess, I smile and quietly watch, knowing that my kids love their books and are making happy book memories. And I’m happy to tape up or eventually replace a book because it has been used and loved. That is a happy thing. After all, a book in a child’s hand, whether reading or playing, is much better than a book collecting dust on the shelf.