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A tragedy of being a teacher’s child is seeing beloved childhood books brought into the classroom and destroyed over time by thoughtless students. One year they’ll scribble on the illustrations with pink crayon. Another year someone will pencil in everyone eating penises or saying ‘UR A FAG!’ The book’s spine is cracked after being opened halfway and slid under a desk to stop wobbling. Strange sticky patches accumulate. Pages get torn out, half-ripped, dog-eared.

There’s little to do but watch; classroom libraries are such sad, motley collections of library castoffs, archaic textbooks and cheap paperbacks it seems miserly to reclaim anything, and after just a year of abusive treatment most books are unfit for any other space (classroom libraries are the bottom of the barrel for books just like kindergarten toys are the end of the line for toys).

One rare exception was walking into a 5th grade classroom and seeing my copy of ‘Grimm’s Fairy Tales’ nearly untouched (save for some girl repeatedly writing her name in red marker on the inside page). I snatched it off the shelf and was shoving it inside my already-crowded bookbag when the teacher came in and reprimanded me. Thinking fast and having excised many an age-inappropriate paperback from classroom libraries before*, I said the book was too violent for 5th graders, and opened to the story ‘Bluebeard’, illustrated by Gustave Dore, to prove it.

‘Bluebeard’ is one of my favorite fairy tales; with spousal serial killing central to the plot, it resists watering down and kiddie-friendlifying, despite the Grimm Brothers’ sanitizing effort. The teacher concurred it would traumatize the kids and said I could take the book back home. Excelsior!

*If you’re a teacher’s kid, your summer ends 2 weeks earlier than other kids. As soon as they open the school you’re drafted into classroom prep, including weeding and sorting shelf after dusty, crooked shelf of worn books. Some common offenders are below.

80s Romance Novels - Combining Class and Mullets
Straight Up Romance Novels
I never knew how exactly these ended up in elementary school classroom libraries, but without fail I’d pull several from the shelf every year.

The Mods!
The Woefully Outdated
Books having nothing to do with curriculum or the current decade. I pulled several science books from the shelves (and kept them, of course) that wondered if man would ever reach the moon.

Cinderella Nurse
Pulp Paperback
Combining the confusion of the Straight Up Romance Novel and The Woefully Outdated as to how the hell it got there.

Programmed for Love
Age Inappropriate
This is about as current as it got, bookwise. I just stacked these up for the 7th grade classrooms.

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