Tuesday, 12 February 2013

For the love of picture books

I have not been blogging much of late, dear reader. I have been as they say 'under the pump'. But something has happened in my small world that I feel I must give voice to. I was recently speaking to a dear friend who also works in the arts. He has a young family and is a fabulous, hands-on kind of dad. I admire him greatly. In the course of our 'convo' (new word for me, dear reader) he mentioned (to my immense horror) that he thinks picture books are a 'luxury item'. 'Why buy a picture book,' he said, 'when there are so many in the library?'
This comment has worried me like a chipped tooth all week. When, in an affluent, Western society, did picture books become a luxury item? Granted the hardbacks can be expensive,  I mostly reserve those for special occasions, gifts and whatnot. But the paperbacks? I cannot imagine our home without it's precious, shambolic collection of PBs. Our collection has grown with us, dear reader, and enriched our lives immeasurably. I give you exhibit A. Our first copy of Peepo! by Janet & Allan Ahlberg. My son and I read it so many times it fell to bits. I bought another and kept the patched-up version as back-up. Might I add, I was a sole parent for ten years but I always managed to eke a few dollars out of my 'deserted wives pension' for a picture book. My son is twenty-one now and the price of picture books has barely changed. Like coffee they have not kept abreast with inflation (praise be). 
I implore you, dear reader, don't stop buying picture books. For the sake of art, literacy, beauty and as a tactile record of beautiful memories shared with your children, buy them, share them, love them. xx
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  1. Our paperback picture books were so loved the children are seeking out copies of them for their own children at op shops. (Sadly, we gave them over to op shops for others to love over a couple of house moves and we're being berated for that now).

  2. I would happily give up sweets; wine; and new clothes to keep books coming in at a steady supply!

  3. It's not hard to pick up pre-loved picture books second-hand -- some of our most loved acquisitions came from the library book sale (though some of them had been very well-loved indeed!)

  4. My greatest pleasure as a grandmother is buying picture books. And of our ragged collection at home - we were going to give them away, but our son said, 'You can't get rid of my books!' (He hasn't, however, taken them away, and I intend to buy nice new ones for any offspring.)

  5. We were very poor when I was in early primary school. I could count the number of bought toys that I had on one hand, but God bless her, my mother never said no to a Puffin, Golden or Ladybird book. I so wish we had kept them all.

  6. Thank you for all for your lovely comments. It seems I'm not the only one who treasures picture books not just for art's sake but for the precious memories they encapsulate. It's particularly heartening to see what a special place they hold in the hearts of our 'adult' children. xx

  7. Love the aged sticky tape. Gives your book character and a feeling it is very well-loved. I am often tempted to buy picture books myself, no kids in sight. I've always bought them as gifts, it's a never-fail option.

  8. Hi Jogrant. I agree! I often give picture books as gifts especially to people with no kids as I hate to think of them missing out! xx

  9. PEEPO!

    I love peepo that was my daughters first book she was 3 months old when I started reading it to her and showing her the pictures. She would wriggle with delight and reach out to touch the pages and croon at it.

    Such lovely memories and she is still bookish as a young woman and dreams of owning a bookshop and cafe.

    The physical experience of human and books is a relationship like human and dog. It would be terrible not to have it.
    Its not a luxury it just a more considered experience.


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