Permission Granted: Become a Hoarder

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Do you know a hoarder? There was a television series sometime back called “Hoarders: Buried Alive” that explored the people who Hoarding 1can’t bring themselves to give or throw unneeded things away. We have a dear friend that is a hoarder. Walt is a person who buys and sells things at flea markets around town. However, his buying seems to eclipse his selling, and since he clearly perceives value in temporary possessions, they slowly become permanent possessions that over time he loses in the piles of items he so treasures.

We all know hoarders. There is probably at least one in every neighborhood, keeping tons of stuff that they never seem to use but can’t bring themselves to give away. Their collections of memorabilia and little treasures abound.

Hoarding 2Okay, I’ll admit it. Actually, my wife and I are hoarders, too. The things that we hoard are carefully put away, placed onto shelves making them easy to find and use—though we rarely do. They are stacked on desks and tables and night stands.  We buy more almost every week; we just can’t help ourselves. We might have over a thousand largely unused little treasures.

All Right! As you might suspect, we hoard books of every kind, including a dozen large bins of children’s books that we used in our classrooms before we retired. Books we will very likely never use again.

To us, our books are like merit badges, or plaques for some long ago accomplishment or another. We gained from them what we went to them for at the time, yet can’t bring ourselves to let go of them, even years later.

Oh, we loan books like crazy, but we tend to put labels inside the covers indicating from whose ex libris they come, adding a look as we hand them over to a borrower that implies, “Please oh, please treat them kindly and bring them back home when you are finished.”

So, do we own the books or do they own us? At a certain point, do we become hoarders of books? I mean, how many books does anyone actually need?Evans Graph

Well, one answer, especially for young families is about 100. About 100 cherished books in a home provides any family with thousands of complex or surprising ideas and experiences to reflect upon and discuss around their dinner table. Research shows that such discussions are necessary for establishing a home culture of reading. And the combination of having abundant books and the reading culture that comes with them seems to be common in the homes of children who grow up to be proficient readers.

So, go ahead. If you’re going to be a hoarder, hoard books! At least one hundred books, especially if you have primary-aged children around. It seems that this modest hoarding of books is actually a great way to ensure children will grow up fully literate and happy to be so.

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