Recently a package arrived in the mail containing a few incredible treasures filled with details, textures, meticulous attention to the materials, and that smell. You know what I'm talking about, a little musty and dusty with a hint of old glue and paper pulp, books. Tangible, hold in your hands, dog-eared, margin-graffitied, sentiment loaded books, the kind they don't make anymore.
In the new world of digital tablets, works of art like these wonderful old pieces of history are quickly forgotten in favor of new apps and glare-free screens.
That is not to say I don't get it, I do. The ability to read anything from anywhere, to have an entire library worth of knowledge at your fingertips, is pretty wonderful. And the production of books uses massive amounts of paper, and not-so-eco-friendly inks and glues. I get it. There are far less materials involved in producing a reading tablet, and the storage is amazing. But then again, I love the look of books on a shelf. I love the feeling the old bindings, the weight of the paper, and beautiful history of it.
Some of my fondest childhood memories are those spent with my family when we would spend a day visiting our favorite book store. Every year around Christmas we would go, eat a lovely breakfast together, and then spend the rest of the day among the twists and turns of bookcases, shaggy green carpet and lumpy old armchairs. Every year on that day, my world got a little bigger and brighter because I had the chance to look through so many different kinds of books. And at the end, I got to take one home.
I realize you can do this same activity via browsing a tablet's plethora of titles, but it's just not the same. That time spent with my family, learning from each other and about each other through books, flipping the pages together, can't be recreated in any other way.
Children's books especially should be tangible physical objects. My favorite books went everywhere with me as a child. Angelina Ballerina and Winnie the Pooh were some of my most loyal adventure companions, while Peter Rabbit and I became explorers out to conquer the world. Somehow I don't see a tablet surviving the ins and outs of fort creation, dirt tunnel building and puddle splashing. But a book, a book can stand the test of time and the abuse of childhood adventures far better... the proof is on your book shelf.
*Last time in Books and Stories: Back in Time