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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The end of vintage kids' books!?!

If you've been checking in on this blog for any time, you'll know I have a thing for old books, and especially text and other books for kids. I think they taught children a lot beyond what the explicit subject matter was. So I was upset to stumble upon this today at The Volokh Conspiracy (my thoughts follow the quote):

The End of Vintage Kids' Books? 

Some readers were confused about my comment below that the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act is having a negative impact on used booksellers. In short, the CPSIA bars the sale of children's books printed before 1985 due to concern that the ink might contain lead. As the Washington Post reported:

Legislation passed by Congress last August in response to fears of lead-tainted toys imported from China went into effect last month. Consumer groups and safety advocates have praised it for its far-reaching protections. But libraries and book resellers such as Goodwill are worried about one small part of the law: a ban on distributing children's books printed before 1985.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the agency charged with enforcing the act, lead in the books' inks could make its way into the mouths of little kids. Goodwill is calling for a change in the legislation even as it clears its shelves to comply, and libraries are worried they could be the next ones scrubbing their shelves. . . .

Scientists are emphatic that lead, which was common in paints before its use was banned in 1978, poses a threat to the neural development of small children. But they disagree about whether there is enough in the ink in children's books to warrant concern. . . .

The legislation, which passed with strong bipartisan support, was a reaction to lead's being discovered on and in thousands of imported toys, mostly from China, in 2007. It restricts lead content in products designed for children age 12 and younger to 600 parts per million by weight; the threshold drops to 300 parts per million in August of this year. Items as varied as bikes and jewelry are affected.

So are books such as "Madeleine," "Goodnight Moon" and "Corduroy."

Lead was phased out of printer's ink following the 1978 paint ban; lacking a firm date for when it effectively disappeared, the safety commission has ruled that the toxic metal might be found in any book printed before 1985. . . .

Implementation of the new law has libraries and secondhand bookstores reeling. Although they could pay to have each old book tested, the cost ($300 to $600 a book, according to the American Library Association) makes that impractical.

For more on this, see Walter Olson's City Journal article, "The New Book Banning," as well as his stuff on Overlawyered.com, specifically this post.

I don't have time this morning to check out all of the links and do the background research. But here's my initial thought. As I recall, the lead-bad thing got going because lead consumption was linked to delayed neural development. The worry was kids were sitting in their cribs nibbling on peeling paint in run down housing. But here's my problem. As I child, I was exposed to stuff with lead in it-- including books published before 1985. My husband was. My parents were. ... . And we turned out just fine, thank you very much. No one in my family is a retard on account of having handled and read books printed with lead ink. See? See me type out a coherent, grammatically correct sentence. See my husband write five books. See my mom balance a checkbook. See?

Get ye to your local used book store and buy up all those old kids' books before it's too late!


Humble wife said...

I have been thinking of this for a while and perhaps I will sound loony but I think that there is a sinister reason to this.

You see the revisionist can get rid of the books without a book burning. How simple?

I collect the old books too, and the stores, whether antique or thrift have been removing these books. What weird times we live in.

I pray it is paranoia but seems all too odd to have lead as the reasoning
New Mexico prepper

Holly Jahangiri said...

I actually wrote to the ALA and begged them to ban children, not books. ;)

I think we should start a petition. After all, smart parents will still go to the library and check out books for their under-13-year-olds. But once destroyed, those books are GONE.

And Jennifer...

Eh, I like your sinister, paranoid way of thinking. Really, I do. Unfortunately, I think this is backed by sheer stupidity and fearmongering - nothing nearly as interesting and nefarious as, say, Fahrenheit 451 or 1984.

And they can just look at us and say, "See what happens when you read books? What does all that MEAN, anyway?"

Marica said...

When I posted this on my FB page, I actually noted that this fit well with my grand conspiracy theory! It sort of reminds me of "Anthem" by A. Rand. Opps. There I go remember a *book*!

Seriously, I do think it's criminal. Beyond that, I don't know what more to say.

Jennifer... have you talked to the owners of these stores to inquiry about why the books have been removed?

Anonymous said...

Are these endangered kids reading or eating classic kid's books?

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