I was recently at my mom’s house, as we worked together to sort through her children’s book collection pulling out books that belonged to each of us. Some books were sorted into piles based purely on memory, but the vast majority were sorted as we opened the front cover and saw whose name was inscribed inside. Compiling my stack and reading the sweet inscriptions written by (primarily) my grandmothers and mother, brought back a host of warm fuzzy memories, both of the family and friends who had gifted me the books as well as of snuggling up and reading the stories themselves throughout my childhood.
Would being handed a pile of my childhood books have elicited many of the same memories? Of reading the stories together with my family, definitely! But I would have missed out on being reminded of the thoughtful gift givers who had begun shaping my life long before my (notoriously terrible) memory can recall.
In the words of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, “It’s a great thing to start life with a small number of really good books which are your very own.” And I might add, an even better thing to be able to take them with you as you grow and mature as a tether to your childhood and the people who are rooting for you.
My mom did a fantastic job of noting books that belonged to each of us children, and until recently I’ve been notoriously bad at it, quite frankly having forgotten how special it is. But armed with my own warm fuzzy memories and a determination to create a library of books that my own children (current and future) can take with them as a tether to our own sacred reading time and special friends, I’m ready to begin again.
Want to join me? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
What should you include in an inscription? There are a few potential elements—include what feels natural without overthinking it!
You can write the inscription directly into the book, or write it on a book plate. I remembering loving having my own little box of book plates for my books, and it’s also a great way for grandparents and others who live far away to send their inscriptions (in their own handwriting) to be included if the books are coming separately (e.g. in a Bookroo subscription)!