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Do You Keep Your Children’s Favorite Old Books?

What do you do with books when your child outgrows them?

Our 3½ year old girl's bookcase today

Books have played a very special role in my 3½ year old daughter’s and my relationship. For more than three years now I’ve read to and tucked in my little girl every night. It was a great idea by my wonderful wife about a way I could be sure to get quality time with our little girl each day.

As you can imagine those books have a very special place in my heart.  Which books we read has changed over the years, of course, but I’ve not had the heart to donate the old ones to the library or resell them. Some have teeth marks in them from back when she only had two teeth!

I read some of those books to her so often that many are committed completely to memory. This photo is of her sling book rack taken this afternoon. I’ve removed some of her old board books, but it’s still overcrowded. I don’t want to be a “hoarder”, but how do I decide which to keep?

What did you do? I think at least I want to keep the ones we read almost nightly for a year or more. So many have sentimental value, but clearly I can’t keep them all. There’s a part of me that feels some day she may read these same books to her kids, my grandkids. That makes me smile.

  • What are your favorites?

  • Which did you keep?

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  1. Kelli

    We have a 12-year old boy and a 10-year old girl. We still have all of their books, and I don’t think I could bear to part with any of them! We graduated from the picture books to classics like Heidi and King Arthur. We love the Ralph and the Motorcycle books, E.B. White and many more! We read the entire Narnia series together out loud and loved every moment! We started reading to them before they were born, and I miss reading to them now!

    1. Michael Schmid

      I can’t wait until our little girl is old enough for books without pictures. I look forward to reading Narnia and such to her while she lies in bed. Bedtime right now is a mix of dancing, hide-n-seek, singing and at least two books. Hard to get a 3 year old to “wind down”. 🙂

  2. Amy

    Of course I keep them, they could be good for the baby number 2 as well:) By the way, I still have my children’s books in the garage of my parents. I thought that they were good for my little son, but the kids of today aren’t interested in those old tales.

    1. Michael Schmid

      My mom gave us some old one, but in our case my little girl loves them. Especially some of the old books of children’s songs. 🙂

  3. Teresa

    I’ve donated the board books & bought my favorites of those in hard/soft cover. :). I donated them because unfortunately the resale value is not worth it. I donate mine to shelters and church. My 16 yr old daughter still cherishes her favorite books that I kept for her. And she will willingly read her favorites to my almost five year old. It is very sweet. Keep the favorites forever. It is great when they are teenagers to go down memory lane and see their eyes light up when they remember the magic of a favorite childhood book!

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thank you so much for the advice, Teresa. There’s a woman’s shelter not too far from where I work. I think I’ll donate the non-keepers to them. The rest I’ll put up either on book-shelves or in dust proof boxes for storage. Thanks again!

  4. Anna

    Donation could be the best way because there aren’t any mindful reasons to keep them, the babies of the present won’t be interested in books or old-school tales, but the children of the third world would be very happy about the donated books.

    1. Michael Schmid

      You’re probably right about most of them, but I can’t bring myself to part with the really special ones we read hundreds of times together. Thanks, Anna.

  5. Ivy

    I say keep the really special ones. One day your daughter will children of her own. You can hand them down to her or even keep them at your house to read to the grand kids. I write special messages in my son’s old favorites. I hope one day when he read the books to his children that these messages will bring back special memories.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Hi Ivy! Great idea about writing messages in your son’s old favorites. I’ve written in a couple, so there will be a note from daddy there, but I should do it in more. Thank you!

  6. Cindy

    I definately keep all the books for my kids. Books cost to much to discard.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thanks, Cindy. We plan to keep the special ones, and donate the others. Have a super day!

  7. Maria Stones

    I love books, especially my child. I always thought my child the proper way to keep his book no matter it it is old already. It is still important to give some time to keep it safe and useful again.

    1. Michael Schmid

      I’m with you, Maria. Though I will only preserve a subset of her books, those that we read together the most and were thus most meaningful.

  8. Angie

    We always involve our children in the purging of old books to make room for new ones. In other words, we don’t just scoop up all the old ones for donation, but rather let them set aside the books that are most special to them. I wish my parents would have done the same for me and my sisters. This is another great opportunity to seal in childhood memories!

    1. Michael Schmid

      That’s a really good point, Angie. When we donated a bunch of her toys a while back, we involved her in the process… explaining that she was sharing things she no longer used with another child who’d love it. And confirming with her the books that mean the most also makes a tremendous amount of sense. And of course, there are some that are very meaningful to me as well, even if she doesn’t recall the year I read some to her every night, as she was too young.

  9. Laura

    My daughters are 16 & 22. I saved the books that they loved the most, so I can hand them down to them once they have children. And it brings back so many memories when I pull them out to read.

    1. Michael Schmid

      I understand completely, Laura. You all have convinced me to choose those my daughter loves the most and/or we spend the most time reading (when she was too young to really remember) and save them. Thanks so much!

  10. Rene

    Yes I do but I go a step further, I keep the old board games and bears (some of the bears are probably hives of germs and dirt but I cant bring myself to get rid of them!).

    1. Michael Schmid

      Good point about the bears, Rene. Saving her favorite lovie (or three) is definitely in my plan. Per your comment, consider a UV sterilizing wand (we have a small one). They kill not only viruses, bacteria, and mold, but also dust mites and bed bugs. Be sure to follow the instruction, though, as a quick wave over a toy won’t do.

  11. Ken Rodgers

    By the I do keep the old favorite books that my children like so that they be able to have the fun of reading them at a later time if they need to do so. I also find fun in reading with them sometime, it makes us become so close.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Makes sense, Ken. I do plan to keep their favorites, and donate the rest. Thanks!

  12. Angelina

    My 4 year old love it when I read him books. I had to donate some of them but kept his favorite ones. Yeah, it ‘s nice to think that he can read those same books to his kids someday.

    1. Michael Schmid

      That’s what I’ve decided to do, too, Angelina. Have a super afternoon!

  13. Alexis (The Exhausted Mom)

    I save the most favorite ones. My mom did this for me and it was so heartwarming to share them with my boys. The rest I donate. We are actually planning on donating some to local hospitals this summer. I’m also a teacher, so I bring some to my classroom.

    1. Michael Schmid

      I wish my mom had saved my childhood books, though we moved between the US and Europe twice, so transporting things became a bit difficult. Donating is a great suggestion for the ones you don’t want to keep. Thanks, Alexis!

  14. Anne @GreenEggs&Moms

    Bite marks? How cute is that! My boy never bit his books but oh how he loved to tear the pages. Like you, I don’t think I have the heart to give the books away. I have a mix of real books and ebooks, and they’re staying with us for a real long time.

    1. Michael Schmid

      I’ve not used an eBook to read to our 3 year old, Anne. I’m old fashioned… well, and old… and have stuck to retro-styled paper & board books. Some are actually more than 50 years old. Our little girl loves playing with our iPads & phones, but I’ve not made that leap. Not sure how well the iPad would fair against teeth? 😉

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