I was upset about the law Congress passed last year called the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008. It will force many thrift stores and resale shops out of business because they will not be able to afford to prove that their children's toys and clothes do not contain trace amounts of lead.
In my own small town, we have a resale shop that specializes in infant and children's things--clothes, games, cribs, high chairs, car seats. It is all reasonably priced and attractively marketed and fills a great need in our area for affordable children's items. Under the new law, much of it will have to be discarded.
Much as I hated this, I did not realize until today when I was reading an article about the law via garynorth.com, that the new law applies to children's books as well. Books published before 1985 may not be sold except as collectables as of Feb. 10. You may bet that their prices will skyrocket.
Some old children's books are available in new printings, of course, but there are so, so many fabulous ones that are out of print. The high price of recently re-printed books also greatly reduces the number that most families can afford. As a young mother, I spent many hours scouring boxes of old children's books for fifty-cent hardback pearls to bring home to my children. Many of them were library discards. Returning home, we would cozy up in my old wingback chair, one child on each side, and I would read aloud for hours. I can still hear them pleading sweetly, "Just one more chapter, Mommy! Pleeease!"
My general rule then was to avoid anything published after 1960, with a preference for early twentieth century, late nineteenth century. These books had the best language--much more complex sentences and a far richer vocabulary than the newer ones. Most importantly, the pre-1960 books reflected a Christian culture, the memory of which will be greatly faded by the new tyranny, which stipulates that we must protect our children from harmless amounts of lead at the expense of their literary inheritance.