I am a tried and true bibliophile. Having learned to read at an unnervingly young age, family photo albums are lined with pictures of me and books; engrossed in a books, listening to someone read me a book, sleeping in a pile of books…I’ve gone through many phases in my life (I’m looking at you emo/goth/Hot Topic employee phase), but one thing I’ve never lost is my love of all things book.
As a parent now, I constantly look for ways to instill my love of literature in my children. For the most part, I feel I’m succeeding, but it hasn’t always been the smoothest path. So for my fellow bibliophile parents/parents-to-be, here are some lessons I’ve learned along the way.
- As a true bibliophile you will lovingly curate your child’s library. You will fill it with classics. You will hoard Caldecott winners like a doomsday survivalist. You will find books with visually stunning watercolor illustrations. You will track down books with unique, quirky, lovable characters. You will seek out books that break barriers and teach your child about all the deepest, most meaningful themes of life. And your child will eschew them all for Barbie and Lego Star Wars books.
- You will snobbishly declare your child will never read trashy books (cough cough LEGO Star Wars cough cough Barbie). You will meekly give in when you realize reading trash is better than not reading at all, which will be the alternative once they’re given a choice.
- Kids’ books from the library are disgusting. Reading books is what keeps our kids on the crapper for as long as it takes to, well, crap. I think that’s true for a lot of families. So really, that gaggy Barbie book is probably also covered in poo particles. Actual gag. There’s also a book at our library about kissing boo-boos. It’s adorable. I loved it and brought it home for my sweet 2-year-old who loves to fix owies. And then I realized as he was lick-kissing baby’s boo-boos that 7,000 other 2 year olds have lick-kissed baby’s boo-boos too. Probably while taking a dump. Super actual gag.
- Black and white illustrations are classic and beautiful. They also look an awful lot like a coloring book. I’m looking at you Ferdinand and Blueberries for Sal.
- If you’re a bibliophile who can’t handle a marked up, creased, generally destroyed well-loved book, you will develop an ever-present eye twitch.
- You will pay for a lost, late, or destroyed library book. I don’t care how pristine your account was pre-kids, it will happen.
- Children have no respect for the quiet library rule no matter how many times you whisper-scream at them to be quiet. The sour looks of the librarians will send you into a massive, guilt riddled shame spiral.
- Your local library’s story hour will become sacrosanct in your home. The hour is blocked off on three different calendars and your kids know better than to dawdle when it’s time to go. They have suffered the wrath of “late-to-story-hour-Mom” and are loath to experience a repeat performance (especially when the threat of no TV for the rest of eternity lingers in the air).
- Your kids will always go to bed later than other kids because you will not be able to resist the plea of, “Just one more book! Pleeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaase?!” You will also be severely punished for this in the form of cranky, sleep-deprived monsters from the bowels of hell every. Single. Morning.
- You will also be a cranky, sleep-deprived monster from the bowels of hell every. Single. Morning. Because you are a giant, bibliophilic pushover.
- Halloween will be an utter disappointment when you suggest they dress up as Anne of Green Gables and your kid asks, “Wait, which one is that?” And then they choose to be a cheerleader. And then you die a little inside.
- You live for the new book order flyers from school. The second it arrives in the take-home folder, you whisk it away to pour over like a teenage boy with a Victoria’s Secret catalogue.
- At conferences, the teachers will subtly try to figure out just how honest your kid’s reading log is because it’s so long. You will subtly try to hint it is completely dishonest; you actually left a good chunk of the books they read off the list to make it more believable.
- You will earn enough Chuck E. Cheese tokens from completed reading logs to host a birthday party. For free. For the entire classroom.
- Friends and family will no longer sponsor your child per book when there’s a read-a-thon. They learned that lesson $7,000 ago.
Congratulations, book-loving parent, on raising a new generation of bibliophiles. May they carry on your book-obsessed ways. The path to literacy is paved in germs and shame but it’s well worth it. Just don’t forget to wipe down those board books with some disinfectant.