Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Words from children's books | water and Australian life

We're not buying any books for Christmas this year, nor are we buying any for the boys' birthdays. And not because we're being scrooge about it. We're just having so much fun discovering wonderful tales that we can simply borrow, keep for a while and then give back. The books we bought for Kian last year have only been read a couple of times, and only because I got them down off his shelf. They just don't pull him in, like I thought they might. We go back to some of our classics now and again, but when I sat down with the boys this week to do some 'weeding and tilling' in their rooms, I got quite a surprise at the books they no longer wanted. It made me realise that what resonates for me as a good book may not resonate with them, and vice versa.

But I loved sitting with them and letting things go together. I was attached to the books I gave Kian for his first birthday, but he isn't. So there really isn't any reason for them to stay. Luca thinned his collection right down too – either because he's outgrown the stories or because he was never that keen to begin with. Kian stepped in and claimed a few and the rest... Luca's preschool have asked for books as gifts this year instead of the usual gifts for teachers that parents, including myself, like to offer. I love this idea so much more and without any effort on my part, I have a big pile to donate.

It's this very process that's making me mindful about going out and buying more books. The point of clearing our clutter isn't to make space for new things; it's just to make space. For now anyway.

I had a conversation recently with Luca's preschool teacher about books. She loves them, but she doesn't own any. She reads them and enjoys them, then gives them away. She told me that she couldn't relate to the attachment most of us feel towards books, or anything else for that matter. Things come into her life and once they've served her, she moves them right out again.

That probably wouldn't work for many of us. Or maybe it's exactly how we all do it, except we hang onto our books etc far longer than we need to!

Anyway, I'm much happier with where our book collections stand now, and I'm even happier that the boys, even at their young age, could so easily let so much go. It was great to watch!

And when we do buy another book for the boys, it'll be because they want their own copy of something special they've read, not because the story and illustrations spoke to me.

If I just relied on online bookstores like I used to, I probably wouldn't have come across these three gems. I picked them up in the same library visit, and Luca loves all three. One's a tear-jerker, one is based on what actually happens in the Northern Territory and one is a heart-wrencher.

It was only when I started writing this post that I realised all three books revolve around water and Australian life. They really are beautiful.

Everything is thirsty – the horses, the milk cow, the chickens and goats. Dougie and his sisters give sips of water to the joey and baby cockatoo. Water Witcher, Jan Ormerod

Still, nobody knows for sure. All we know is the river floods and the fish come. When the river dries up I find fish in the puddles. When the puddles dry up, the fish are gone. Flood Fish, Robyn Eversole & Sheldon Greenberg

Dad says we'll keep Rick so busy he won't have time to notice how crook the place looks. And who knows? He might even bring some rain... Two Summers, John Heffernan, Freya Blackwood

More words from children's books


  1. It's so interesting reading this. Just yesterday we got out our Christmas books and Che went through them all and then said: 'Oh, it's not here, the one I really love." And you know what one it was? "Applesauce and the Christmas Miracle" - a book that we borrowed from the library for the past two years running.

    Lessons from our children. So profound x

  2. This is so true! I started building a huge book collection for the boys, and realised they just got sifted through and left all over the floor in the search for a few favourites! I culled it down to 3 small shelves a while ago and they now read so much more!

  3. Our family library is full to overflowing. I have a real problem with children's books (ie: I admit I buy too many!), especially with two children in different stages of reading. But this Christmas I have decided that after the big day itself, when new books have been allocated, we are all to go over the bookcases and undertake a cull of mammoth proportions. My daughter, the prolific reader, will have no trouble identifying her faourites to keep 'on the floor' so to speak, and long time faves for both that they have both left behind them will be given a place of respect in our attic for the grandchildren of the future.

    I have to say that I do like owning the books - being able to hold a book that I remember bringing such happiness to me as a child, and to then pass that same physical book on to my own children is, frankly, joy itself.


Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I read every one. x