Sometimes we work so hard to protect books for one reason or another that we forget the reason they exist; which is to be read by our students.
Sometimes they are on the shelves of libraries, safeguarded by stingy limits of how many books kids can check out at a time or by narrow limits on when kids can visit the library for checkout. Sometimes they are in classroom cupboards behind closed doors. Sometimes they are purposefully kept on high shelves where only adults can reach them because they are the “personal collection” of a teacher or reserved for a “special unit”. Sometimes they are part of “classroom book sets’ intended to be read 25 at a time once per year, rather than one at a time throughout the year. Sometimes they are in cardboard boxes, crates, or stacks, just waiting and collecting dust because there isn’t adequate shelf space, or that we haven’t gotten around to unpacking them since we last moved classrooms.
Occasionally, there may be reasons to preserve or protect certain texts for certain times or reasons. But overall, there are just way too many books stashed away in schools with some sort of barrier preventing them from getting into the hands of kids. However, when we teach and insist upon the responsible and respectful treatment of books, our kids will step up to the challenge. Yes, books experience more wear and tear and stress and risk when they are in the hands of kids than they do when they are tucked neatly away in a cupboard. It’s true. But in the cupboard (or box, or dusty stack, or top shelf, or locked library) they are not living the life they were meant to live. A book is born to be read and reread and read again by another.
A book is not born to wait. Books are impatient and needy things, wanting to be held, studied, admired, read, bragged about, and shared. Find them and get them in kids hands!