From Tracie: Once Upon A Time There Were Books

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Once Upon A Time There Were Books

I was watching tv. 

Not really. I was reading a book. 
Thomas and Katarina were watching tv. 

Then I heard it. 

The commercial that broke my book loving heart. 

It struck me to the core.

It crushed me.

"Once upon a time there were there's VReader"

The the only sound that could be heard in my house and possibly the surrounding county was....

That is me screaming.  Some of those question marks might represent profanity.
Also, Thomas may or may not have had to restrain me from throwing things at the tv.

~For the purpose of this post I will not bore you with my feelings about this product that I have obviously never tried. It might be a wonderful tool to get your child interested in reading. I'm thinking that it will probably get your child interested in playing the games included. 

~I am restraining myself right now from commenting on the fact that it certainly doesn't have any advanced books-although it is supposedly suitable for kids up to age seven. 

~Do you see how I am keeping myself from discussing how it could possibly promote laziness and non-learning when kids can just click the "read to me" button instead of doing the reading themselves? 

~This is not me telling you that I fear that dancing cartoon characters with every word takes away from the imagination experience kids (and adults) get from reading books. I will not allow myself to use phrases like "slippery slope" or "the road to hell is paved with good intentions" when referring to the VTech V.Reader, but only because they seem too nice.

Instead, I am going to talk about that line from the commercial. 
"Once upon a time there were there's V.Reader" 

It makes me sick to type that. 

I love to read books. 

Seriously. I LOVE books

Not just the reading of books. I love the feel of a book in my hand. I love the smell of a book. Books have their own unique smell depending on the binding and type of materials used to make them. Old books are especially delicious (to smell, not eat). I love the feel of pages, the sound of them turning. 

When I get a new book I always do the same thing: 
Hold it.
Feel the weight of it. 
Turn it over and inspect the outside cover.
Pet it.
Open it up and caress the pages.
Start reading...from the first page.

Sometimes when I pass by a bookshelf I can't help but pet my books. Run my fingers across them. Smile lovingly. Think about who I might want to loan a certain book to, or what book needs a re-read. 

I am an only child. When I was growing up, books were my friends. They were my escape from bad places. They were my teachers. They were my inspiration. As I read, I stretched and grew and expanded my mind. That has never changed.

I have taught Katarina that books are a precious gift. Being able to read them is a privilege that not everyone experiences. I have stood in the bookstore with her and seen her pick up two different printings of the same book, touch the pages and inspect the binding to make her choice.

A few weeks ago when Thomas noticed me smelling a book we had a conversation where words like "clinically insane" were thrown about. Then a little voice from the backseat piped up, "I've smelled my books. The American Girl ones smell the best. I think it's the shiny paper". That is my daughter!

Once upon a time there were books....and we all lived happily ever after.


  1. I LOVE books too!
    There is nothing better than the smell of a freshly published book in your hands!
    books over TV any day of the week.
    UNLESS L& O is on....:)

  2. This. is. a fabulous post. I (obviously) feel the same way. Books and reading are precious commodities and - I believe - the single most important key to education. To independent thinking. Ah, the smell of a good book. I used to work in publishing and got all the most amazing books for free. What a gig.

  3. I'm right there with you. Books are sacred. You read them, love them, but please for the love of God don't leave them on the floor of your room and walk all over them like they're not even there.

  4. sigh....

    Wilt thou give me a lock of thy jet-black tresses?

    (just stellar post, tracie!)

  5. Hi. Are you hosting the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse for October? What is the topic for this month?

  6. I am so with you on this...I love books too. And, I love when my kids want to's not often enough though.

  7. I so totally agree! My kids probably heard "Books are our friends" a thousand times growing up. Few things are more thrilling than actually buying a brand new book and hearing it when you open it the first time. Or going to the library and losing yourself amongst the shelves as you gather an armload of books to take home.

    Once upon a time there were books? Sad words indeed.

  8. My neighbor when I was growing up was a retired teacher and she taught me how to read when I was probably 3, or 4 at most. I'm not talking about only children's books. I mean books about The Titanic and Henry VIII.

    So, to me books have always been sacred and special. All books. Even the ones that I'm not interested in reading myself. They all have something unique and special about them. How about the smell inside of a rare or antique book store? Unbeleiveable!

  9. Just the sweetest thing, when your girl piped up from the back seat. Loved the post. Your bang on, even if you do sniff books.

  10. I totally agree. It's why I'm not jumping on the kindle/nook bandwagon. I want a real book in my hands.

  11. Amen.

    I can't believe there are people out there who have never smelled a book.

  12. YES!! I saw that commercial, too. I'm so glad you blogged about this.

    I've loved books longer than I've loved chocolate and sarcasm. And that's a LONG time. :)

    Have a great weekend!

  13. Books have brought me so much solace and joy. My childhood was so much better because of them and I wouldn't want to live in a world where they don't exist.

  14. I love everything about books too! The way they feel in your hands, the smell (esp the smell!!), the beauty in the type of print....that's why I can't get into those books that are on a small computer.
    My oldest daughter took me out for my birthday and guess where she knew to take old book store I'd never been to. It was heaven!!

  15. Oh man, I was going to write something about this on my blog--but you've saved me the trouble.

    I say a fervent "amen" to every point you made. I too am a book sniffer. Did you know there are predictions being made that books are on their way out, obsolete? Over my dead body, is what I think. How can something like the V Reader replace the total sensual experience of holding a book in your hand, turning the pages, sniffing the pages--and underlining meaningful parts?

    As a writer I'm appalled that anyone would want to do away with books. Maybe you didn't say it, but I will: the doing away of books will surely be the decline of life and society as we know it now.

  16. I would NOT buy that for my daughter either!! I want her to read... it is a privilege some kids don't have.

    Thank you for visiting me today!!

  17. nothing can replace a book. nothing. i love my books like old friends; love turning their pages and feeling the weight of them in my lap. i can't imagine reading without them.

  18. We love our books, and we will never change. We tried the kindle for kicks at barnes and noble...gah! everysingle one of the kids said, "mom this'll drive me nuts."

    I need my books...

  19. You know I'm on your side w/ this, Tracie! I posted about this same sorta thing not that long ago. I love books too and it's so sad to see where technology may be taking them....


  20. I totally "get it," Tracie. I spent many, many, many an hour curled up with a great-smelling book :) Thanks for linking this up to SS!

  21. KIndle, Sony Readers, /V-tech for kids, can never take the place of reading a good book. How can you curl up with a Kindle. And I love reading books for my son. It is a bonding experience that I would never trade.

    He's got computers at school and we have a Leapster Explorer, but he always prefers a good book so we can cuddle

  22. Books books wonderful book - they're the stuff of memories and learning....and the smell of books old and new (and even musty!) can never be compared to anything else.

  23. I feel like I am reading my own thoughts! I was SOOOO sad the other day when I read some article that said children's board books are "becoming extinct". They said that publishers aren't selling nearly as many, and are just cutting down more and more. They also said the shelf space was too valuable fo them!!!??? I was like holy cow. We have two big old baskets full of them. Both my boys are under three, and I can't tell you how many HOURS.... we have read for. Sometimes it's hourSSS a day. My oldest is attatched to them at the hip! I definitely never plan on getting one of those electronic readers!

  24. I want to start off by saying that I completely agree with you and all the commenters before me about the importance and loveliness of books but as a teacher (a reading teacher at that) I think these electronic books are wonderful!

    Sadly, we live in a world where we are competing with TV, video games, computers etc and if getting students excited about reading takes putting it on some kind of digital device, I am all for that!! I recently read a research study about children who have ADD or ADHAD and how they may only be able to attend in a classrooms for 5 (maybe 10) minutes but when they are put on a computer they can focus for over 45 minutes!! That's huge!! I've learned as a teacher we have to adjust our teaching style in order to reach the needs of all children.

    Again don't get me wrong, I LOVE books and the thought of them becoming obsolete is horrendous! I think we have to expose our children to all sources of print! Books, magazines, cereal boxes, comics, e-readers, computers etc!!

  25. Oh and YES, I LOVE the smell of books too!! I smell them too and alway hug a good book when I am finished reading it!!! Ha!!!

  26. Here from the Saturday Sampling. I haven't seen that commercial, thank goodness. I think you actually restrained yourself very well...

  27. My favorite room in my childhood home was our expansive library. My parents were teachers - my father taught reading. I was surrounded by books and I love them too - but - I did just publish my first eBook. (Please don't shoot me.) My dream is to have it printed in paperback someday. Thanks for linking up to Saturday Sampling. I really do need to remember your perspective as I continue my writing career.

    My contribution to Saturday Sampling is from my resurrected original blogspot. I'm hoping to gain some followers. I'm #15 - Hearten Soul For You

  28. Tracie,
    As someone who loves books, I can't even think about the idea! That's why I'm not a fan of the Kindle or all of the other techie things out there! I want to hold it, love it, throw it on the floor when I'm finished, but I need to interact with it.

  29. Yeah, I like the tactile part of it. And my eyes down like reading a screen after a while. I love books and newspapers too. I'm afraid that they're both going the way of the dinosaur...

  30. I LOVE the smell of old books. I get that tools like a vreader might teach a kid to read. You know what else can teach my kid to read? ME. A little effort. My son owned a couple dozen books before he was even born, and I already see that he loves to get books read to him. I hope that sticks with him.

  31. I have always loved books.


    The feel, the smell, the heft of them in my hands. The crisp black letters against a creamy page. Love.

    Books have always been my friends. My escape. Always.

    "Once Upon a Time There Were Books?"

    So annoying.

    As long as I am here?

    There will be books.

  32. I LOVE books, too! And am so trying to plant that love in my sons. My oldest son, 24, now has a library. We argued the other day because he couldn't remember me giving him Alexis de Tocqueville's Exploring Democracy in America(I gave it to him for his 20th birthday). My second one is avoiding reading, but he has a stash of WWII books. My 4th loves reading as much as I do. And the 3rd, well, he likes it, he just doesn't want to right now. The youngest is a reading rebel right now, but we're working on him!

    I agree - reading a real book, holding it, smelling it, developing relationships with words - that is amazing!

  33. Amen! I LOVE books! I was a voracious reader as a kid and now am usually juggling three or four at a time, though at a slower pace since I have the kiddos. I considered getting a Kindle, and I've downloaded a Bible app on my iTouch and while it is handy being able to take it with me wherever I go, I prefer to get out my actual Bible to read when I'm at home.

    I did have a negative knee-jerk reaction to the idea of these V-book things, but then I remembered that when I was a kid, we had those read-along records with the bell sound so you knew when to turn the page. So, I guess it's kind of the same. As long as they aren't replacing reading with the V-tech all the time.

  34. Oh, and I worked in publishing, and we were all nerds who would sit around smelling our print samples. :) Heck, I even like how paper smells when it comes off the Xerox at the office. :)

  35. Ok, this post solidifies it, we were meant to be BFFy. Seriously.

    I love books too. I eat them. With my brain, not teeth. I chew gum with my teeth. Also I eat cake with my teeth too.

  36. Oh gosh! I think If I hear that commercial I'll cancel my cable again (thinking of it anyway) and go spend the amount of the month bill on amazon... getting REAL books of course.

  37. I SO agree!!!! I loooove the feel, weight, and smell of books too! And yes--the American Girl books shiny pages are awesome ;)

  38. yesh. you've summed up my feeling pretty well. i was/am going to blog about that stupid commercial too. it does make me very mad.