When I was young one of my favorite books was one my grandma had at her house, Richard Scarry’s To Market, To Market, a nursery rhyme book that had little areas you could scratch & sniff. It was a well-loved book that survived 11 grandchildren. About a year ago my grandma gifted me with that book and hoped that I would share it with my son, which I do, though we don’t read it often as it is falling apart in many ways. Luckily, my little dude has a Richard Scarry book of his very own, a gift to him from our conservator Melissa! He loves to lay on his belly flipping through the pages of this book and taking in all of the scenes from Busytown. His flipping through pages can tend to be a bit aggressive and often makes me hold my breath or frantically say, “Gentle! You are going to rip the page!”

“The turtle is fixed!”

Well, as you can imagine, this 2 year old has ripped a few pages. Every time we look at the book together, he is quick to point out the tears and often tells me I need to fix them. “Yes, I will fix them later” is often my answer. Little did I know that he points these rips out to other people as well. Not long ago, when we pulled out that book, he told me “the turtle is fixed!” I was so confused by what he meant, and then he showed me. I gasped. He was right, the turtle was fixed (by his babysitter)… with packing tape! How ironic that a book gifted by the conservator has repairs made with packing tape. Oh dear.

I Spy: my toddler “reads” this book in bed almost every night.

Knowing my love for books and the nature of my job, my grandma also gifted me with a few other books that she had kept from her own childhood. As you can see, these have clearly been well-loved, as well – it isn’t just today’s kids that like to color in books or tear pages.

Grandma's book - published in 1937

Grandma’s book – published in 1937


Grandma's well-loved book.

Grandma’s well-loved book.

Grandma assures me that it wasn't her but probably her sisters that colored the pages :)

Grandma assures me that it wasn’t her but probably her sisters that colored the pages 🙂

Drop spine box created for one of Grandma's books.

One thing I have come to realize is that books are meant to be loved, to be read over and over, until one can recite them from cover to cover. Or sometimes that love is shown in the form of ripped pages or scribbles made by tiny hands. Certain favorites will be a part of our collections longer than others, but it’s clear that books are loved now just like they were 65+ years ago.

Mother Goose Rhymes (1920) in the ISU Library Special Collections also shows evidence of being "well-loved"!

Mother Goose Rhymes (1920) in the ISU Library Special Collections also shows evidence of being “well-loved”!