I have a thing for vintage. Vintage items, with the exception of clothing, are a favorite of mine. Exploring antique shops and using vintage items for uses you would not have ever expected, is something I dig. Groovy.
If you walked into our house you would see a mix of vintage and modern. Vintage glass on the modern kitchen shelves. Vintage maps and signs hanging from the wall, modern paintings next to them. I especially love the vintage eclectic look, old items from far off places, like my masks from Zanzibar and my Lamu dhow boat sign, all are items that have stories attached to them.
Well, shame on me, but I never thought much about vintage books until recently. About a month ago my mom sent me a vintage Hawaiian counting book…a Menehune counting book to be exact. (If you don’t know what Menehunes are, they are a group of people in Hawaii who have an interesting history, including the question of whether they even existed or not.) The book is beautiful, unique, and incredibly special to me because of the time my family lived in Hawaii. This book, with its gorgeous images and fun Hawaiian history, started me on a vintage book kick.
The other day I passed a used book store that I pass at least three times a week. But the other day, once I passed the store, I stopped, turned around and entered. I had never been in this store before, but figured I should see if they had a children’s section.
Trying to navigate Bean’s large SUV stroller among the piles of books that clogged up each aisle was interesting, to say the least. At least four customers glared at me with the What the heck is she doing in here with that thing? look.
There was a children’s section, and what an amazing section it was. Hardcover books, softcover books, collections of fairy tales, Little Golden Books…you name it, it was there. My hands pulled book after book from the shelf, and before I knew it I had a large pile of books that I wanted to purchase. With each book costing a few dollars a piece, I was looking at about $40 worth of books, and knew that I had to pair down my pile. So I chose two Little Golden Books…classics of my time!
Vintage books (vintage meaning old – from the 70s, the 50s or the 20s) have a history within them. They often have inscriptions or names on the inside cover. They sometimes have dog-eared pages or marks in the margins. I love these wrinkles and blemishes because they make me wonder about the child, adult or family that once loved that book.
So if you are a lover of books like me, try something new. Love the old ones for a while. Bring your child into a used book store to show them where the other books live. It is a far different place from the clean and sparkly Barnes & Noble, but an adventure in finding old gems that may have been forgotten.
Teach your children to love a previously loved book, it is a lesson in itself, and one that not many children will want to embrace at first. Go down into the basement, or up into the attic, and pull out the books you loved as a child. Dust them off and share them with your young readers. I promise that one day they will pass that book on, even if it sits in in a lonely place for a while in between.