Earlier this week I experienced my first book death at The Rainbow Library – I had to withdraw a book for the first time in the year it’s been running. The poor book was waaaay beyond sticky tape or book-surgery. It was gone.
I’m sure books have been damaged or lost before, but this was the first time that the remains had been so obviously put back into the library for me to find. I’d almost rather they hadn’t done so, that I’d been allowed to think of it off travelling somewhere, being loved in a child’s home, or living on a farm perhaps.
I’ll be honest, it’s taken me a couple of days to get over it. That may sound silly to some. An overreaction. But it was a really beautiful book and it was very new. It had only been borrowed once before and had a long life of entertaining children ahead of it. I think I was just disappointed. I had gone to so much effort to set up The Rainbow Library and stock it with really amazing books and it felt like it wasn’t being cared for. I was also frustrated and disappointed with the parents/carers.
But when I really thought about it I realised that this is the very nature of The Rainbow Library. I’m trying to get books into the hands of children who don’t have them at home. Whose parents or carers don’t share books with them. And if they don’t have them at home and haven’t been read to, then how will they have learnt how to look after books? How will they know to be careful with them? Isn’t it better that a child had the opportunity to play with the book and it got ruined, than not have had the chance to play with it at all? YES!
So am I going to stop putting beautiful pop-up books in the library because they have a higher chance of getting ruined? NO! Because these kids deserve the opportunity to experience them. And if the books end up in book heaven then so be it. I will do my best to recycle the remains into something special, I will sit with the children and model good book behaviour and I will buy them another copy. And another. And another. And another.
Because how else will they learn?
RIP Playbook Pirates. May the lessons you taught us make us stronger and wiser. And gentler!