Books That Fit

Posted by pamela mccoll on Sunday, April 1, 2012

 The children’s books that fit on my crowded bookshelves are ones that have either travelled with me these past fifty odd years and are valuable friends more than inanimate objects just collecting dust. At some point in my reading career they arrived just to time to encourage, delight or offer me new and possibly needed wisdom to further my adventuring. Other books that fit on the shelves are newer acquisitions that were simply an irristable purchase intended for a future grandchild or child who it would suit. Fortunately for me I live I have the ready excuse of buying for a rainy day read as I live on the West coast of Canada and we have no shortage of such days in which there is simply nothing better to do than draw in close with a book and I include children’s books in my reading for the imagination and delight they offer and they can brighten a dark and cloudy day like nothing else – especially when enjoyed along with a wonderful cup of

“sparkle tea” from our local tea proprietor and my three spoodles at my feet.


I have a bookcase in my office, my living room and my kitchen and books spill over my table tops in most of the rooms in my house. I was brought up by Scottish grandparents who instilled in me a belief that nothing was more important than your educations of which books are the foundation.  At less than five years of age I knew how to properly break in a new book and turn pages with the greatest of care and I vividly remember sitting beside my Grandpa Mac as he passed to me his intense passion for great books. From the age that I could first read I have had a pile of books by my side and often have four or five going at one time. I have this habit of travelling with books and leaving them behind for others.  Only books that actually that might prove to be a valuable friend or resource in the future  have made the many moves from house to house with me and have earned a place to "to fit" on the shelf.  If I have no plans to reference it ever again I pass it along.  I love giving books and I think they make the very best gift for persons of any age but particularly children. When I was growing up I was always allowed to

pick a special book as my present and I still have my original copy of Dr. Doolittle and many others that marked the passing year.


In the fall of 2011 I had the idea of returning to publishing. Fifteen years previously I had published eight books with both success and failure and I had enjoyed the experience of publishing an author’s first novel and bring my own books into existence. But these were also busy years bringing up children of my own and I curtailed further publishing pursuits for the time being.


I had been researching the idea of publishing something that would help to prevent children from taking up the use of nicotine. I started out thinking of maybe changing the story The Three Little Pigs and making the wolf the smoker who ends up burning down one of the houses through a lit cigarette butt. Then a much better idea came to me. I stumbled upon the much loved poem “Twas The Night Before Christmas” and decided Santa to a non-smoker.  To change the most famous poem in the English language for what I would consider the better is not something that was done lightly. I decided not to rewrite the verse pertaining to smoking but to rather simply allow the words to quietly slip off the pages. A

I had grown up in the 1960's and I had experienced the devastating loss of loved ones to tobacco related diseases. In the twentieth century one hundred million people died premature tobacco related diseases and they were preventable. That we could simply delete the images and reference to smoking and not distract from the sentiment of the original made for a compelling case to make the edits.

I was walking down a street in Soho New York back in 2004 with my daughters when I saw an ad in an Anthropology Shop that had this amazing quote as the headline: "No doubt, I savored the taste of independence. But it wasn't so much changing the world as becoming a part of it that drove my ambitions." I do not know to whom to credit with this inspiration but whoever it was spoke my language. Books That Fit is not a designed to change the world but rather it sets to engage with likeminded individuals who love books and want their children or grandchildren to read books that help them on their way. It is not that we set out with an agenda but rather respond to the common objective of offering the best possible books to our very impressionable young readers with the fundamental principle that they do no harm. That characters depicting smoking can have an influence on whether or not a child will smoke in the future is well established in science and research. The causal link has been made and now it is our responsibility to take an active role in previewing what we put before young impressionable children.

I do not want my children, or my grandchildren to be burdened with tobacco addiction and all the problems and costs it brings. We know now about the influence of smoking depictions in movies and in books on young children. We are able to engage in a conversation that can turn this around and we can select what our young children see. This is not censorship but rather exercising our personal right to make choices as to books that fit.

Follow Books That Fit on twitter @booksthatfit I would love to hear from you.