The Headmistress is negatively affecting my blood pressure

“Children’s books have limited useful life (approx 20 years).”

That was the Consumer Product Safety Commission, not the DHM. But to quote the DHM,


My kids have read my copies of Chronicles of Narnia and Anne of Green Gables, both sets older than 20 years. We also have The Wizard of Oz printed in 1957. Almost every single children’s book in my mom’s house (and I suspect most of them in my mother-in-law’s) are older than 20 years. These are the books that nourished me and now nourish my children and my nieces and nephews. I’m not sure what these people are doing to books to make them useless after 20 years, but perhaps they might better spend their time reading them.


If you have not called your Congressman and Senator about this, do it. Do it now. The number is 202-224-3121 for the Capitol switchboard. To contact the White House call 202-456-1111 (although they all seem so confused they don’t know whether to scratch their watch or wind their butt, but hey, it might help.) Here’s a list of contact numbers for the CPSC. I think I’m just going to go down the line and tell them all to read books instead of burning them.

(Here’s the piece of rubbish that mentions that “20-year” figure, slide 6. I think I know where they got that number, but it isn’t mentioned in polite company.)


A quick perusal of the kid’s shelves found this:

Illegal books (those printed before 1985)
The Berenstain Bears in The Bears’ Nature Guide-1975
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The Hair Book-1979
My “J” Book-1984
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice-1973
The Little Prince-1943 (I suspect this might be a later printing, but since there is no evidence of this–illegal. I’m pretty sure it’s a pre-1985 printing.)
Three Stories from Winnie-the-Pooh-1966. This is a paperback book and still in good shape.

Books still deemed legal, but “useless” (i.e. they’re more than 20 years old.)
The Biggest Snowball of All-1988
Calvin and Hobbes-1987
The Far Side Gallery-1987
Old Mother Goose and Other Nursery Rhymes-1988
Tomie dePaola’s Favorite Nursery Tales-1986

Books nearing the end of their useful life
Weirdos from Another Planet-1990
The Princess and the Goblin-1990

There are others, but I got tired of checking. I know most of these books aren’t classics. But they are fun little readers my children can spend a pleasant half hour with. Most of them were given to us, which is a blessing considering our budget for books is slim. Some of these–the Calvin and Hobbes books and the Far Side Book were my books when I was young. Watching my girls laugh and read each other Calvin and Hobbes like I did makes me smile. There is nothing that limits their use. Twenty years is really nothing in the life of a book in a private library. When I was a child, One of my favorite books from the library was April’s Kittens, a Caldecott Honor Book published in 1940. They’ve recently re-released it, but for years, the only copies were the much more than 20 years old. I know the copy that I read as a child was. But it was still “useful” to me. “Useful life.” What kind of moron tries to define the “useful life” of a book?

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