Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Stolen Books

Can't remember who posted the link, or where the link led to (don't judge!), but a few days ago, someone on Twitter posted a link to an article citing the most stolen books of all time. Apparently some books are stolen so often, bookstores regularly keep them out of sight behind the counter. Bizarre!

It started me thinking about my classroom. I lose books all the time. A lot of the books probably get lost in kids' bedrooms which are notoriously scary places. By the time they clean their rooms and find them, some of them are probably too embarrassed to bring them back. I've had several kids return books years later. One girl came in with a stack of over 20 books one day. She was moving out of her parents' home and had finally cleaned up! :)

I also teach a lot of kids who don't have much. Of anything. We often assume everyone has cell phones and computers, but I've taught many, many kids who don't have either. Or a vehicle. Or enough food for lunch or dinner or breakfast. So if they 'forget' to return a book they love, I couldn't care less.

I don't use a sign out sheet for my books - too much fuss. I just let them borrow. Most of them get returned, but I probably lose 20 or 30 a year. Maybe more.

I think the most stolen/lost book in my room is The Hobbit. At one point I had 6 or 7 copies of it - all with different covers. I used them to discuss the power of covers, what attracts the eye, colour and font choices...

How many do I have now? None. I'll buy another one this summer. Can't have a classroom without the Hobbit - especially with the movie buzz!

So, if you were going to steal a book, which one would you take?

84 comments:

  1. Most interesting, I know my children were awful for leaving their school books at home. I made them return them of course but it does happen.

    Yvonne.

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  2. Yvonne - it certainly does. I think most of the books are truly forgotten, not stolen, but in many cases I don't mind at all. :)

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  3. Oh wow! Now that's a question and a half!What would I take???? I guess it'll have to be a graphic novel - like a Neil Gaiman or a Terry Pratchett one! LOL!! Take care
    x

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  4. Old Kitty - Those are terrific choices!! I love that graphic novels have become so popular lately - they're awesome :)

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  5. A book about radical protesting entitled 'Steal This Book' by Abbie Hoffman!
    Loved that title...
    the book I lose the most is one by Pema Chodron - The Wisdom of No Escape. I give it to people and then I can't bear to ask for it back as I know they need it.

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  6. LOL. The Hobbit. I must always have a copy near me. It's like a warm blankie. :)

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  7. Jan - that's an awesome title!! I think that was one of the ones some bookstores keep hidden! :)

    There are some books I can't bear to ask to be returned either. Some books hook into your sould and therefore belong to you!

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  8. VR - I know! It really does give you that same warm feeling. I have my special boxed edition that I bring in to show the kids each year - it's gorgeous!

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  9. I read The Hobbit each year with my 8th grade English classes and haven't gotten tired of it yet!

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  10. Milo - I love it too - it's one of my all time faves!! :)

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  11. You might want to buy several copies!
    Wasn't there a book with the title Steal This Book? Wonder how long that would last in your classroom?

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  12. Alex - I think I will buy a few! :)

    I'm thinking that one wouldn't last very long at all! :)

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  13. I've never stolen a book, but I repeatedly checked out a book the last two years of elementary school because I loved it so much. Every two weeks I had to go get it restamped so I could keep it all year :-) It was a yellow book about Greek Mythology. I was thrilled a couple years ago when I found it still in print and for sale at Barnes & Noble since it'd been almost three decades.

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  14. I thought about taking a book once, but I felt so bad about it I gave it back to the library. Now I have a wish list of books I want that I keep when birthdays or Christmas comes along. I usually get books under the Christmas tree.

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  15. I would never steal a book but if my life depended on it . . .

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  16. Now I am really curious as to which books get stolen most often!

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  17. Christi - that's awesome! I've got a few kids who are totally into the mythology books right now too. Percy Jackson sure helped make it popular again! :)

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  18. Emily - I definitely don't have the ability to take a book. I accidently recycled a library book once & when I paid for it, the staff tried to refuse because I'm such a good customer, but I couldn't do it. :)

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  19. Karen - I know! I didn't know most of the books on the list - I wish I'd kept the link :)

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  20. LOL. Well, as usual, we are the same. I have hundreds of books in my classroom and no sign-out sheet. Like you, if a student likes a book enough to keep it, all the better. :-) Of course, many just get lost. I'd say anything by Sarah Dessen, the A Child Called It books, and fantasies are the major ones that I can't keep in the room.

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  21. Shannon - I'm not surprised! A lot of fantasy walks away from my room too. A lot of my graphic novels as well :)

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  22. I'm glad you lend books on the honor system. Many will learn a lesson. Others will feel the guilt when they are not returned. That is good also.

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  23. Teresa - thank you. I think it works the best. I often have kids returning books on the first day of school after summer holidays :)

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  24. The first ear my friend taught she placed a box of books in the room marked "Help Yourself." A winter break they were still there. She put them on the borrow me shelf and by spring break most were gone. She believes the kids want the books but also love the feeling of "getting one over on her."

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  25. Mary - that's awesome! I bet she's right. Kids think there's something wrong/less about freebies - they want the real thing!

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  26. which book would i 'steal'?

    dunno the name, but costs more'n $500... last i heard... it's about celtic lore....

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  27. Laughing Wolf - if you're going to do it, might as well go big! Love it :)

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  28. When my teacher read the Hobbit to the class, that was the moment I fell in love with stories and writing. So, yes, definitely get another copy!

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  29. Lynda - I will! The Hobbit is one of my all-time favourites. I've read it so many times! :)

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  30. Interesting about the Hobbit. I do remember uh, holding on to a library book longer than expected -- THE LAST UNICORN. I loved that book! :)

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  31. Karen - love it! I bet there have been a few books people have held on to :)

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  32. You're such a special person, because you will keep providing these books for kids, even if you know it won't be returned. You're pretty darn awesome.

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  33. Julie - awwww - you're a sweetie! Thank you :) You made my whole day!

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  34. I could never keep my hands off a first edition (British version) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

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  35. Actually, my only "real" crime in this world was stealing a book. I was fourteen (or so), and the poor book was under-appreciated there it was sitting in my school's musty, tiny, crappy, hardly-ever-used library. No one noticed. I still cherish it. I consider it a rescue operation more than a theft.

    It was "Le Petit Prince".

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  36. What ARE you lot like? I have such a strict policeman in my head that I'd not sleep at night if I stole a book. I have occasionally forgotten that I had something from the library but it's always been returned.

    On the other hand, when I was a teacher I too lost loads of books but my kids often had no books at home so what can you say?

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  37. Michael - that's a good one!! I'd be very tempted by that one too :)

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  38. Cruella - Le Petit Prince! Good choice. The copy in my room is very under appreciated too - It's old and worn and faded. No kid has picked it up in ages!

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  39. Rosalind - exactly! I can't say I begrudge the kids the books, but it's annoying to have to figure out what's gone and replace it! :)

    I couldn't do it either - I'm SUCH a rule follower!

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  40. Look at all your lovely comments. You have such a knack for drawing people in.

    I can't answer your question because I never would. I have lost books or simply forgot to return them. But I look at my fines as a way to support my library. In today's climate, I figure they need all the fine money they can get. So I happily pay fines and I'd like to think that all those "stolen" books were really just misplaced or lost. When we moved and I cleaned out my son's closet I found a gorgeous art book from a library. The fine was luckily capped or I would have just bought it!

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  41. Yvonne - you're such a sweetie! Thank you :)

    I don't mind paying my library fines either - and I've paid a few :) I think that most books just get lost like your sons - piled somewhere and forgotten until cleaning day!

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  42. Oh, how interesting. You are such a sweet person for letting them keep the books if they forget. I know what it's like to work with kids who don't have much. I'd do the same.

    I don't have my own classroom, but in the class that I worked, the book "Frindle" was the most borrowed and most lost. They loved that one.

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  43. Shelley - thank you. I think you would too - it's just not that big of a deal when you look at the big picture :)

    Frindle is a great one! I love his determination in that one.

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  44. If I had any YA books, I'd pack them up and send them to you.

    I think I might be secretly happy if someone stole one of my books.

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  45. Helen - that totally cracked me up!! I think my hubby would be more than happy for someone to steal a few of mine as well! :)

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  46. I know! I lose a zillion books every year off my classroom bookshelf, too. I have them write down the title and their name in my "checkout book" -- not that I really follow-up or anything. While I do wish they would bring the books back, I tell myself the missing books are sitting on someone's bookshelf because they couldn't bear to be parted with it.

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  47. Mary - that's exactly what I tell myself too! I hope that's the reason at least :)

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  48. I love your attitude!
    I often go to grab a book off my shelf to find it isn't there - probably at a friend's house somewhere - hopefully being read by someone.
    I love how books circulate.

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  49. Michelle - thank you :)

    I love watching books go around too. Used books have such a history to them!

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  50. hi miss jemi! nope! i didnt never steal a book but i got tempted a couple times at the book store. now i get so much presents of books and i won so much of them on blogs i cant keep up with all of them. ack! im just real happy you got lot of books for your students and you could trust them to take them home. sorry some get stole.
    ...hugs from lenny

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  51. Lenny - I'm not surprised you haven't stolen a book! Not your style :)

    It's okay that some disappear - as long as they're being loved somewhere it's not too bad :)

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  52. I don't know that I could ever bring myself to steal a book.
    I do think it's awesome that you take into consideration that less fortunate kids may take them to have a book of their own. You're fabulous.
    Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

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  53. Ditto above - I was just going to say that.

    We donate all our books eventually - don't think I could ever steal a book, but I swap with friends all the time.

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  54. Oh, I heart you for not bugging kids about returning books! Interesting fact that all the Hobbit copies disappeared. I have started reading the Hobbit to my girls at night, and I am ultra protective of my copy (won't let them take it off to look at on their own) - it's a very old illustrated version from my childhood.

    And I can't sit still waiting for the movie!

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  55. Lisa - thank you! You're a sweetie :)

    I don't mind when a kid who has no/few books takes them. If they're going to love them and read them, I don't mind. :)

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  56. Anne - I couldn't steal one either -- books are too important! I love swapping books - used ones carry that little bit of history with them :)

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  57. Margo - love it! My personal Hobbit copy never gets touched by anyone either! It's boxed and illustrated too - my favourite :)

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  58. The Hobbit! How interesting...

    I'm ashamed, ASHAMED to confess I used to work in a bookstore in college and I stole books all the time. How humiliating... I DID try to return some of them later, when I was older and more honest. (And had more money.)

    What did I steal? The Bean Trees, Red Azalea, Winesburg, Ohio, Montana 1948, The Witching Hour...

    LOL. *sigh* (*red face*)

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  59. Leigh - That's hilarious!! Sorry! :)

    It would be mighty tempting when you're working in a book store - I think I can understand. :)

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  60. I imagine when I was a kid I would have kept this encyclopedia of the wild west that I'd found. I sort of did, I guess, as I went to work with my dad and made copies of almost every page. He was not happy when he discovered that...

    I know it's even more expected to have all that technology these days, but when I was a kid it was assumed most homes had a PC. Even though my dad worked for a technology company, we did not have one, and I had to go to the teacher to get special permission to use a typewriter for my assignments. It was a relief to not have to go to each teacher about that once we finally did get a computer.

    I love that you're so understanding about the books missing from your classroom. Like you said, I imagine most are an oops! And, of course, you definitely can't have a classroom without The Hobbit! I read it for the first time in 5th grade and loved it.

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  61. Shannon - love it - your poor dad probably had to pay for all those copies! :)

    I bought a manual typewriter way back in high school & I was so proud of it! I used it for all my assignments too. It still works today - the kids have done a few assignments on it over the years when an 'old-fashioned' look was required :)

    I think I read the Hobbit in grade 5 too - it's such an amazing story!

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  62. You're a wonderful teacher, Jemi! And generous too. I agree with you--if books are missing because they've been loved and enjoyed, then who cares, right? The important thing is that the kids have something to read.

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  63. Cherie - thank you - you're a sweetie to say so :)

    I agree. I've had one mom tell me she wouldn't 'waste' money on a book for her daughter. She obviously never found the power of books herself. I gave that little sweetie a few books for a going away present when they left town :)

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  64. I'd never steal a book!

    To Kill a Mockingbird is something I could read over and over, however.

    The Hobbit is the most stolen? I've never read it.

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  65. Theresa - I know you wouldn't! :)

    To Kill a Mockingbird is a great choice - I adore that story!!

    The Hobbit is one of my all time favourites - a wonderful fantasy story. :)

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  66. Really? The Hobbit?

    Mine would definitely be Anne of Green Gables. It's something I can't live without!

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  67. Talli - yup - definitely the Hobbit. I LOVE Anne of Green Gables too, but I can hardly get anyone interested in reading it these days! That page-long 1st sentence turns many of them off. It's too bad, it's such an amazing story.

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  68. LOL, interesting question. Never thought about stealing a book.

    I've donated a lot of books to teachers in the past, because I worked in their classes as a parent helper. I think I gave one or two boxes full to my niece when she first started teaching.

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  69. Susanne - I didn't think you had! :)

    That's awesome! I started with only a few kids books and have built it into a ginormous library in my class - love having so many great books to share! :)

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  70. I read once that Gail Sheehy's "The Silent Passage," which is about menopause, made the most stolen book list. That was years ago, though, before boomers aged into "the change." Now, the stigma is gone, thank God. And I, for one, have no qualms about mentioning hot flashes in a blog post...

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  71. When we moved recently I discovered I still had a copy of my English teacher's The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, though so many years later, she'd retired. Oops! I'm not sure what I'd make off with if I had the chance -- there are a couple of dozen books in the TBR pile right now, so I think I'd better not add to it!

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  72. Katie - that's hilarious! I don't have any problems mentioning hot flashes either :) but the stigma was really big for a while. Glad it's changing!

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  73. Amie - Marion Z Bradley is a great author - I bet more than a few of her books have disappeared over the years!

    My TBR pile is huge too! We really have to create some magical reading time where the rest of the world stops!

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  74. I would be unlikely to steal a book, but if I were going to do it I'd probably go for a reference book of some sort that I'd use often. Or maybe something that was hard to find.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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  75. Lee - I can't imagine you stealing one either!

    Love the practical answer! Very smart!! :)

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  76. Classroom books are notorious for disappearing. I know from experience :) (Not stealing, btw. From seeing sticky hands)...<3 a newb follower

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  77. Kelley - welcome! So glad to meet you.

    Books really do seem to walk away on their own sometimes :)

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  78. Wow, it'd have been a tough choice between Pippi and any of the Walter Farley books for me. :)

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  79. Mary - those are great choices! I loved Farley's books and Pippi is awesome!!! :)

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  80. I once stole a book from my library as a kid :) but to my excuse - I did it only because it was in a very poor condition and I thought I'd save its life by stealing it from the library and giving it a better home :) It was Flaubert's SALAMBO :)

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  81. Dez - that's a great justification! Love it :) I know my library has a used book store, but if the book's in bad shape, they do just toss it - so I bet the book did have a better home with you :)

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  82. it sure did :) Not only that I still have it in my book shelf more than a decade later, but the novel itself inspire me a lot that summer in its exotic way :)

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  83. Dez - that's awesome! Novels can and do inspire me too - I love it when they do that :)

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