(cross posted on my personal blog)
I'd heard of it for a while - a store where all the books are free. The Book Thing of Baltimore. Really? For real? Free books? Read this article if you want, it's interesting. I knew I'd have to make my way there someday and FINALLY we made it. We were already planning to go to the Science Center for the afternoon and I figured since we'd be in Baltimore anyway...why not drag the whole fam over there? I packed up a bag of books to release into the wild and we were on our way.
It's not in a good part of Baltimore, but that's not saying much. Most everything outside one square mile of the inner harbor isn't considered "good," but I had my man with me and had no fear. Thanks to my GPS friend, we made it without a hitch and found street parking right away. Xavier told me he was pretty sure the building was abandoned, which made a guy reading outside the door have a nice laugh. Cause it DOES look like an abandoned building, but it is FULL OF FREE BOOKS. FULL, I tell you. All the walls are covered with bookshelves that are organized by genre. We found the tubs of kids books and I found a few treasures amongst the trash:
That Hailstones and halibut bones book is important to me because it's a book that you read in Joy School for an entire unit. It has peoms about every color and you read a poem a day during The Joy of the Earth. We always had to get it from the library and pass it around because it's not in print anymore (my "new" copy is from 1969!!). I love that I have it now. The words give me memories of the rapt attention of 3 year olds and that is a pleasure. Plus, it's just seriously amazing poetry. Also, amazingly enough, and also poetry related, I found a copy of Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses" - the EXACT copy I had as a child! The cover looked super familiar, so I took it and then as I looked at the illustrations later, I had strange flashback feelings as I saw pictures that made me remember being 5 years old myself. I don't remember the words so much, just those specific pictures. I love that I have that now too.
My children went to town. Sheely found a classroom set of this random self-published children's book about an oyster (NINETEEN BOOKS!) and she took them all to play school. She was so giddy and I loved that I could just let her do it :) For a time, both my boys were sprawled out on the dirty floor, books in hand, and I was so glad they were being still I just let them lay there as I scoured the "classics" shelf. JACKPOT! I found a small hardbound copy of "The Poems of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow" that someone gave as a gift for Christmas in 1929. It's beautiful. I read "The Midnight Ride to Paul Revere" aloud to Clint as we drove to the science center and I LOVE the idea that my hands are holding and owning and loving something that has been around for such a long while.
Okay, so it was REALLY SUPER FUN in there. And I want to go back when I'm not with people who are finished with digging through books after 20 minutes :) I'm not complaining though, it was really super fun.