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November 3, 2011

What I found: Childcraft- The How & Why Library

Blog fodder is something I’ve been thinking about as I finish up writing my lectures for SCS 2114, and I’ve been thinking about how often I stumble upon mine by the side of the road. On Tuesday, it was a stack of encyclopedias from the Childcraft- The How & Why Library, an edition published in 1987. There’s a volume of fairy tales and nursery rhymes, another of contemporary stories (Amelia Bedelia, Where the Wild Things Are, etc.), one of art projects, another about dates, festivals and celebrations, one about How Things Work, and Numbers and Math. We’ll have to edit Space and the Universe so Harriet understands that there is no such thing as Pluto, but so much of the content here will never go out of date, the books are in perfect condition (except for the page that Harriet ripped), are still attractive-looking, and (best of all) they don’t smell like a basement. (We might ignore the parenting guide in Volume 15 though, with its topical chapters of latchkey kids and working mothers.)

I’ve been longing for an encyclopedia in the same way I wish I knew how to use my sewing machine. I love its containment of the universe, the order of its numbered spines, its place of honour on the shelf, and that if anyone in our household ever wants to know what a cloud is and the internet’s down, it’s no problem. I love that you can open any volume to a random place, and discover something completely fascinating.

The downside to all this, however, I discovered after lugging the whole stack home (while pushing a stroller whose basket can no longer accommodate books after too many gluttonous trips to the library, though that I carried a stack of encyclopedias home really might be the most remarkable part of this story): two volumes are missing! Volume 3 Stories and Poems, and Volume 7 Story of the Sea might just have to tracked down and purchased online for the sake of completion.

3 thoughts on “What I found: Childcraft- The How & Why Library”

  1. carin says:

    Oh, I’m so happy for you! I have tons of great memories looking at my parents’ odd set of Encyclopedia (got from the grocery store as promos in those days). Various letters missing. Didn’t matter. I’ve kept them and when I open them now, there’s still exactly the same feeling of fascination. Info from a book stays with us differently than from the internet. (Hope you learn to use that sewing machine!)

  2. HSMom says:

    Hi, are you still using these? I am trying to find a set just like it. Would you be interested in selling yours?

    1. Kerry says:

      No thanks! It’s a treasure. I did buy the missing volumes online though (via Abe Books) so I know they’re floating around out there. Good luck.

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