A couple of weeks ago I wrote about starting to clean out the years of accumulated stuff in my classroom. The process continues and has led to some great conversations and connections.
I started by sorting through binders of units and lesson plans. Since then I have moved on to the books and posters. I think I may be a bookaholic – like Thomas Jefferson, “I cannot live without books.” I’ve never counted them, but I know that the number is very large, and I also know that there’s no way all my books will fit in my tiny home. I actually no longer want to keep many of them, anyway, and finding new homes for them has become fun.
I sorted through the posters first. I love posters, and have collected some great ones – many are reproductions of famous paintings, like van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” My older son, a high school English teacher, expressed interest in having the art posters, so I bought a mailing tube and sent a bunch to him in South Dakota. This afternoon, my six year old granddaughter Ellen called me to say she loves the “Starry Night” poster and has it hanging in the room she shares with her sister, and her little brother has chosen some others for his walls as well. I thought I was sending the posters for Geoff’s classroom, but obviously there was a much better destination! My step-daughter is a reading specialist in my school and I gave her a poster from the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art; I have some American Library Association posters, too, that she will be glad to have.
Giving away books has even re-connected me with an old friend, also a high school English teacher. Trish arrived in my classroom one afternoon this week – it was great to see her – and we had fun going through poetry, volumes of quotes, some short story collections, and then the professional books. She laughed at how many of my books were also titles she owned, but we managed to fill three big bags with books she didn’t already have, and she chose some posters, too.
Yesterday I drove to Massachusetts to visit my brother, who has been hospitalized recently; he looked great, and we hope he’ll be able to go home before too long. He is a history buff, and we got talking about how I used to teach about Vietnam. He told me that he would like to have some of my Vietnam books! It had never occurred to me that he might want anything, so I was pleased, and I know that there are at least a couple of titles he will enjoy, such as Stanley Karnow’s Vietnam: A History. I actually have two copies of that one. In 2007 I was accepted to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund’s teacher program and spent several days in Washington, DC attending workshop sessions, learning about the memorial, and meeting some amazing people. Karnow was one of our speakers, and he graciously signed copies of his book for each of the attendees. I’ll give my brother the unsigned copy.
Two other teacher friends have told me they would love to have some of my books, and my son will take books in addition to the posters I’ve already sent. I’m certain now that I will have room for the volumes I choose to keep, and I shall find good homes for the books that others want. I can always donate any leftovers – there are lots of sources in that department.
As I’ve looked at all the books in my huge classroom this year, I have worried about how to downsize, fearing that I would not find takers, but it has turned out to be even easier than giving away free kittens. My books and posters have found loving homes and I won’t have to agonize about it any more!