We were at the library last week. We’re at the library most weeks, especially now the weather’s turned all damp and chilly, it’s one of our favourite places to be when we just want to get out of the house, and it breaks up the morning nicely between the butchers and the supermarket. We potter around; Kitty chooses a couple of new books, I try not to bring home the entire new cookery book section (and fail – again) and Elma, crawls, pulls up on the shelves, and scrambles up and over the little poofy cushions they have next to the baby books.
And last week was no different; Elma decided that she didn’t like the taste of any of the baby books on offer; Kitty chose a new story about Jack Frost and an extended version of Dr Foster who apparently visited Gosport and Stockton as well as Gloucester; and I borrowed River Cottage Every Day (again). But as we turned to go, Kitty stopped, and with an exclamation of delight, picked up a little hardback book. It was a new book, but done up to look old, all gold imprint and the impression of binding; a book about myths and fairies, with pretty fonts and faux ‘source material’, and clearly way above her age range.
She didn’t ask to bring it home in so many words, but the request hung unspoken in the air, and I, loaded down with Elma in the sling, and the combined verbage of our existing borrows, said “maybe when you’re older sweetie”, and she willingly handed it over to the librarian who was loading the cart for reshelving.
But I think in hindsight I wish I’d said yes, said “sure, pop it on the pile”. She might have brought it home and ignored it (which wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened to a library book) or she might have looked at it, touched it, loved it, and snuggled up with me to read a little bit. If I want her to learn to love to read, to devour books in the same way I still do if ever I get a minute, I think I have to stand back, to trust her to find her own way, and to let her discover the books that she loves the best from everything the library can offer, although I’m going to reserve my right of veto when it comes to Peppa Pig – even in book format Peppa is a shade too far.
So when we get to Rhyme Time on Friday, if I can find that book, and if she still loves it just as much, it’s coming home with us, along with anything else she fancies, even if it’s just because it’s pink and she wants to carry it around and hug it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sat here beating myself up over it, I’m pretty certain I haven’t ruined her life because I said no to a library book. But that little niggle, the kick of instinct is mostly a reminder to me that if I want my default setting to be “yes”, and I do, I need to actually say it.