Thanks to prayer and a push from one of God's angels, I got up off my rump today and started clearing out the garage. I knew that I couldn't manage the whole job today due to the size of the mess and the fact that it wasn't all my stuff. There is a good bit of stuff that I can't chuck without consulting ABM, so I focused on the books. My two hours in the garage enabled me to clear out a lot and it feels good not to trip over boxes.
One of my biggest stumbling blocks to downsizing the book collection has been my unwillingness to get rid of any of the homeschooling materials. M was homeschooled for grades one through four, and in my heart I still hold the hope that I will be able to teach the other three. There is no denying, however, that my chance to use the kindergarten and first grade materials has passed since my youngest kid is halfway through second grade. Out they went! I think it is also time for me to donate the beginning readers. All of my kids can read now and one of the kindergarten teachers at the school was anxious to have them.
Besides clearing out, I also discovered things under all the piles that I could use right now. The kids are getting into pen-and-paper puzzles so the Puzzlemania and Mathmania books that I got from Highlights were moved to the bookshelf in the den. I was surprised by the number of AR* books that I have. Keeping them supplied with books that are on the school's reading list is a struggle because we don't buy books or go to the library that frequently, so it is good to have a few backups in the house.
My half-empty bookshelves give me room to build a better book collection. I want to add more AR books for the kids so that we aren't always dependent upon the library. I also plan to start reading more myself. Right now I am attracted to graphic novels and I know that C2 and DJ also like them, so they should be a good addition. A few simple Chinese and Mexican cookbooks are on the list as well to nurture the kids' burgeoning interest in cooking.
When I saw the list of books that Bookish Girl read in 2005, I felt a mixture of awe and embarrassment. Once upon a time, I was a bookish girl. I carried a book everywhere I went. I would check out 10 books and a time and have them all read before the four-week checkout period was up. Nowadays, I am almost afraid to start reading a book because I know that I will get sucked in. However, 2006 is all about me presenting a better example for my kids and they won't learn that reading is a worthwhile pastime if I don't model that.
*AR = Accelerated Reader. This is a software program that our county uses to test reading comprehension. All schools have the base program but then each school purchases test modules for the books in their library. This means that every school has a different list and books that you might expect to be there aren't (for instance, M's middle school doesn't have tests for any of Shakespeare's works despite the fact that the school is home to an International Baccalaureate program where the average student reading level is 11th grade).