To Purge or Not to Purge? That is the Konmari Question.

The Netflix TV show “Tidying Up” with Marie Kondo is taking the nation by storm.

This woman’s gentle, joyful method of tidying up has shop-happy Americans cleaning up their acts one trash bag at a time.

Marie Kondo’s show demonstrates her using the Konmari method (a name she made up based on her first and last name, but I say kudos!) to several families in need of help.  She arrives, with a massive sweet smile and sweet intention. She helps the family to see what they DO have – love, a safe home, family – and then gets to work training them to get rid of what they do NOT need.

Yet, when it comes to books, several book-advocates draw the line.

Turning a Page on Marie Kondo

In a recent episode, books were on her chopping block.  And that lit up a firestorm (which I suppose is better than a, he-hem, bonfire).

Ron Charles of the Washington Post boldly declared books were off limits in his piece called “Keep Your Tidy, Spark-Joy Hands off my Book Piles, Marie Kondo.”  Now typically, titles are no more than 6 words, but I suppose that to demonstrate he is so adamantly against purging books, he splurged on words themselves.

I was so taken by his article I made this graphic to remember its bite.

Ron Charles, books, konmari, Marie Kondo, Tidying Up

Another article from The Guardian was titled, “Why We Gain from Keeping Books – and Why It Doesn’t Need to Be Joy.” The author, Anakana Schofield begs readers to see Marie Kondo’s method as an insidious way to discourage reading.

In a flat refusal of Marie’s trending joy-centered purging, Schofield explains why books should be exempt: “Literature does not exist only to provoke feelings of happiness or to placate us with its pleasure; art should also challenge and perturb us” (The Guardian, Schofield, 2019).

Sirens At Work Unbinding Culture

And it’s this statement which blew my eyes open to the reality that not every scourge against reading in our day has to be among the bonfire likes of “Fahrenheit 451.”  To be sure, Ray Bradbury’s book has helped us to train our eyes to see the threat to culture to come in the form of a police state and outright censorship.

The First Siren

But the threat evermore becomes one of beauty, a siren that beckons.  For the last 10 years, it’s been the onslaught and expectation of being entertained at every moment by bright lights flickering on portable screens (I know many people benefit from reading books on screens – that comment is not addressed to you).  A flashy screen is hard to resist. Endless games, apps…

Which – commercial break – is why I make these for my kids.  They love crossing off the boxes as they complete 20 minutes.  Here’s one for winter! My daughter reminds me I am to share it with you here!  For a PDF version, click on the download box – you’ll start to get news and deals in your email box if so!  I want you to have the very best 😉

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The Second Siren

Getting back to the issue at hand, another threat to culture lately has been the trend toward emulating home-decor-perfection.  Bookshelves are messy?  Turn the bindings backward so all you see are pages. Or, simply take most of the books off the shelves to show 3 at a time with a plant and a mirror.  After all, aren’t books just for show?

Just think of all the fun conversations we are missing out on by keeping titles hidden.

The Third Siren

And then we have this most recent siren – the one of simplicity.  Make no mistake, this trend is important to heed, especially in America.  Nothing has had a better effect on my mental health and cleaning schedule like downsizing our home!

But like Charles and Schofield, I draw the line at books.  I feel it’s a threat to an open mind.  Who can resist having an impossibly sweet organizer whisper “you don’t need anything that doesn’t make you happy” in my ear when all those challenges to my thoughts, embodied in titles and pictures, and sometimes cringe-worthy reads, have indeed made me who I am today.

In fact, I can’t imagine a more superficial threading of books on my shelf than whether it gives me joy.

Roy Charles, Washington Post, konmari method, marie kondo, books

Indeed, if I could quote the artful Schofield one last time, “Unread books are imagined reading futures, not an indication of failure.”

See your shelves for what they are: your imagination’s future.

And Marie Kondo, I thank YOU.


6 Tips for Traveling with Kids

It’s time to schedule a break.  You’ve booked your hotel, your cruise, your campground, or your AirBnB.  You’ve booked your planes, trains, or get the car maintenance completed in time to get away for a while.

Yahoo!  It’s TRAVEL TIME!  But wait – I have kids…

I’ve spent nearly my entire childhood and adulthood traveling (for pleasure and for “work”), so I can share some tips honestly.  Take it from me: you will enjoy your trip even more if you “book” your travel there and back as well!  That is, ensure you have books and activities to entertain or challenge your kids along the way.
kids in car arriving at summer vacation
Having a plan for your children’s travel experience can give you an extra source of peace so that you can fully enjoy every moment en route – not just the destination.

Here are six tips to help make your travel part of the vacation FUN.

Tip #1 – Stock!

Stock up on age-appropriate travel pads and games.  This can be through a combo of your local library and special sites brimming with kids’ books (see kids’ travel books here).

Tip #2 – Drip!

Make sure you “drip” them to your kids.  Don’t give them all at once; make sure you can swap out activities as you go.  This keeps things fresh for them, too!

Tip #3 – Fill!

Give them an empty backpack at the beginning.  Let them know that once they are “done” with a particular activity, they can put it in there.  It will be fun for them to see that progress!

Tip #4 –  Listen!

Pack at least one book on CD or download one from Audible.  This will ensure you all “read” at least one story together, making the trip even more memorable (I recommend “Paddington Bear” for ALL ages!).

Tip #5 – Connect!

Pack some extra special activities for restaurants, or encourage the use of restaurant coloring pages.  These are times for your kids to connect with you and with their siblings – make sure you REAP that time with them!

Tip #6 – Color!

Use printables to keep track of their activities if they are motivated by charts!  Assign a minute or book value to each picture – have your child color in the picture as they move forward in those minutes or books.
Here’s a special travel one my daughter and I made just for you! Simply click here for the PDF printable: Reading is Traveling
Reading is Traveling

BONUS tip!

Click on this video to peek inside some new travel books.
They can be purchased here.  travel books for kids

The books reviewed above can be purchased here.

Way to go, fellow parent!  You are six steps further along in enjoying every stop of your well-deserved vacation!

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If this was helpful to you, I’d love for you to spread the word!  Post and share freely – I love helping others parents out!


“Here and There” – Multicultural Awareness

I have just discovered the most amazing book for multicultural and world awareness.

I lived in West Virginia for a while as a kid, and for me, it took moving to another country to experience another culture.  And for many in those days, you had to grow up in different countries or big cities to truly experience cultures different from your own.

But now, the children’s book “Here and There” brings to your home the comparing and contrasting of the multicultural lifestyle.  At a much cheaper price, I might add, than a plane ticket.

This book will make an amazing gift for any elementary school kiddo, as well!
You can grab your copies here: https://b4108.myubam.com/p/6829/here-and-there
here and there

Haven’t YOU always wondered, how do people in other countries shop for groceries, go to school or work, or go on vacation?

If you are taking an international trip, use this book to increase your childrens’ awareness while you explore there!

Amazing, right!?
Grab your copies here: https://b4108.myubam.com/p/6829/here-and-there

Published by Kane Miller and illustrated by Greg Paprocki.


To Clean or Not To Clean

I love what Usborne books have done for my Shakespearean education (yes, I studied some in high school, but I was lost much of the time.  When I discovered Usborne Books & More, I may or may not have started with the illustrated version! It’s so excellent to know what the plays are about before confronted with the language).

But Shakespeare has me waxing poetic on what should be simple tasks.  For example, instead of “to be or not to be,” I’m often asking myself the following:
“To Clean or Not to Clean – that is the question!”

I would much rather read – it is truly a source of joy for me.
Nike’s “Just Do It” is not motivating me enough beyond my love of reading, to clean.

If you’re a bookworm like me, there’s good news.  I wanted to share a happy place I’ve found balancing my responsibilities with reading.  First, in an effort to change my habits, I wanted to see what triggers I have.  I realized that the cue “time to clean” actually has a reverse reaction in my head and I avoid it by working.

So I’m taking that cue and changing it by adding something I look forward to. I am making cleaning my reward by coupling it with reading.  Now when I hear, “Time to clean” in my head, I also hear, “I can read now!”

Let me explain.  Now when it’s time to clean, I grab my device and queue up a book I’m in the midst of reading.  I hit the speaker and it plays in the room.  I have truly lost track of how much time I’ve cleaned as a result!
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So, I am pleased to share that cleaning and reading no longer have to be in conflict.  The question is now which place to start first.  I look forward to cleaning now, because it means I get to listen to a book WITHOUT guilt.

Like a good recipe, feel free to share if this helped you or if you think it could help someone else.

And Happy Reading,
Wendy

P. S. Chip and Joanna Gaines’The Magnolia Story is a great place to start as they narrate it!
P. P. S. “To be or not to be” is from Shakespeare’s play, “Hamlet”
P. P. P. S. Read your way through our Shakespearean collection here: Shakespeare selections