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Voracious Readers

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11yo won't share vast book collection w/9yo sister

Feb 2011

I have two daughters, 9 & 11. The 11 year old has a vast collection of books, most of which have been given to her, but some of which she bought with her own money. Now her younger sister is becoming as voracious a reader as she, but the 11 y.o. hates to share her books, saying ''she'll mess them up''--bend the pages, leave marks on them, etc. (The younger one is actually very careful and respectful of the books.) I'm not about to buy duplicates of all these great books, but I want to respect her personal property too... I keep saying ''books are meant to be shared, and read by many people...if you're not reading it, let her read it.'' But the elder one continues to get upset. What's the right thing to do? Help! Berkeley mom


Do your kids have library cards? Get in the habit of using the library (Oakland used to not have any fees for children's books being over due!). If there is a book that your younger child wants to read, get it from the library. You can manage your account easily online, requesting books, and they'll even email you when they are ready to be picked up.

Don't buy any more books unless they've read it once from the library and absolutely love it and want to read it again. mom of 4 readers!


I can see your frustration, but maybe you need to back off.

IMHO, if the books are indisputably the older child's books, then you need to allow them to be hers. I don't think books are always ''meant to be shared'' any more than clothes are. If she bought it, it's hers. If she was given it as a special present, ditto.

Her younger sister will (or could) presumably accumulate a similar number of books in a couple of years. Meanwhile, aside from the library, there are lots of ways to get inexpensive books, -- Goodwill, yard sales, Moe's books, all the other 2nd hand bookstores, etc etc.

Good luck with this fellow Berkeley parent


How about taking your younger one to the library to check out books that the older one does not want to share with her. If your younger one loves the book so much after reading it, then purchase her one as well. Or perhaps, offer to purchase her a different one Maybe the older one is looking for attention this way. Try not to make a big deal about it and avoid the conflict. I know in my household, a consequence of not sharing would mean that I will no longer buy the books for the child and instead offer the library. What they purchase with their own money or receive as gifts from others, is theirs to decide to share or not. Family that loooves the library
I like your reminders that books are meant to be read by many people and also that you are trying to respect your older daughter's personal property. Keep letting your older daughter know that books are meant to be shared and try to encourage her, but take your younger daughter to the library--just you and her--where she can choose either the same books or try different ones. book lover
It'd be nice if your daughter would share but it doesn't seem likely. Is it worth the battle? Suggest that it would be the kind thing to do and then have your younger one get them at the library. She may realize her selfishness with less push. She's likely to get MORE selfish otherwise. If only kids could go to the future and look back at their actions.
tricky, especially if some of the books were given as bday gifts... i think you need to come up with a clearly defined rule that applies to the whole family and then stick to it. for example, maybe you can tell your older daughter that she will have to share most of her books (and be direct about why, eg, they are expensive, sharing with loved ones is important, etc.) but let her choose her 3 favorite books that she doesn't have to share. it might be worth establishing a rule for the future that any books purchased with her own money she may choose to share or not share, but books you buy for either of them need to be shared... or something along those lines. personally, i think teaching kids to share is very valuable, but obviously they deserve to have sacred personal items, too. striking a balance is what i'd go for. anon
I have an idea for you, inspired by something my younger daughter did when she was about 9. She created a ''library'' so that her friends could borrow her books. She kept a list of who had what and she even established due dates (though I don't think she actually enforced them). She had a lot of fun with it and even created lists of her books and index cards that went in them. Would a system like that be of interest to your older daughter? It might actually make it fun to lend out her books, even if it's just to her sister. Mom of a future librarian
I wouldnt try to get your child to share their books. I remember having a very personal relationship with my books and i got jealous when my mother tried to read some of them to my brother at bedtime. I would suggest that you buy books for 'Mom's Library' that both kids can borrow from, or buy your younger child a book that the older one wants to read also and see if you can organise a swap agreement. Other than that, head to the library every fortnight, it will be like kids in a candy store. ENolan
If she bought the books, they're hers, and she shouldn't have to share them. Likewise with the books specifically given to her. The right thing to do is buy and check out books for your younger daughter. You can buy used books really cheap--look for books sales, thrift stores, library book stores. No reason to antagonize the older one or withhold from the younger one. And in the future, if you're the one buying the books, you might want them to be explicitly intended for both girls. Book lover
I just wanted to say that some of the responses you got telling you that your older daughter shouldn't have to share her books, and just to take they younger one to the library made me sad for all the not-first-borns out there. While it's important for each child to have their own things, books are definitely one of those things that should be shared. Yes, maybe the oldest can have a few special favorites that aren't shared, but I feel like most should be considered part of the family's library. She may have been given some of them as gifts, but as a mother of two girls and aunt of two boys, when I give books I expect them to be shared. In other words, I wouldn't think to buy the same great book for my younger nephew two years after I'd given it to his older brother - I would buy him a different great book so they both could read both. Rather than taking your youngest to the library and leaving your oldest with her pristine books, I'd tell the older one that she wasn't going to be getting any more new books as gifts until she learned to share them, and start taking them BOTH to the library as their main source of reading material. And I'd get your younger one a few new books of her own for any upcoming special occasions so that she can build up her own collection. When she has a few that the older one wishes to read, the sharing may begin. books are for sharing
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