I explained to my boy that the practice of stockpiling books we’ve already read (his main concern, judging by the inciting question) is way down on my list of library benefits. It’s definitely on the list, but it isn’t the chief end of my book hoarding. Except for the few gems that fit into the “reread as often as you can” category, a library full of previously read books can easily become a sort of in-home monument—vaguely commemorating past accomplishments, having no real present purpose.
In contrast, the array of books in our home is intended for ongoing, well-rounded usefulness. They’re there to show us what’s possible, not venerate what’s already been. Even the history books, which are expressly about what has already been, are there to light an inquisitive fuse and point us forward into new exploits.
So my library has a diverse lot of books and, more importantly, an open invitation to the kids: Come; stoke your interest in all kinds of incredible things! Curious about those wall paintings you saw in the pyramids on TV? Let’s look through this book of hieroglyphs and learn how to write our names. Wondering what I’m talking about when I say your runny nose is caused by a virus? Well check out this picture of one of the little menaces right here in my old virology book (and yes, it is freaky that this guy is attacking your nose right now). Not following what we’re talking about in family worship? Look at this, the Bible atlas shows exactly where it happened so you can picture the scene better.
So it goes, on and on.