Monday, February 23, 2009

CPSIA and Vintage Children's Books

The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1962 I just ran across a box of my childhood books. Precious volumes with lovely illustrations, the smell of vintage paper, memories of my grandmother who gave me many of them...and illegal to share with children.

The Jungle Books, Rudyard Kipling 1966These books were all published before 1985 and according to the CPSIA there is lead in the ink that is dangerous to children. And, as a matter of fact, the Association of American Publishers (AAP) has done lead testing on these books and determined that it is within the stated CPSIA standards. BUT despite that, according to the law, such books may not be sold or even given away to children. In fact, they really aren't supposed to go to adult collections because they are CHILDREN'S books, and therefore at some point they might be read by children. God forbid.

Jorinda and Joringel, illus. Adrienne Segur, 1961I guess I wasn't in the habit of eating books when I was a child, but, except for the cardboard books geared for infants and toddlers, I haven't ever seen a child chew on a book. This I've seen with my own eyes at the library...but, then I think there is a much more likely danger of these children catching a cold or the flu from their teething on these public books.

As far as I know, there's never even been a study to determine if these books have ever harmed a child. I had lots of them and I'm considered pretty smart. I'm an artist and have my own business. I guess that means both my left AND my right brain are working well.

The World's Best Fairy Tales,illus. Fritz Kredel, 1967But, sadly, bookstores are throwing out their vintage children's books. Thrift stores will no longer accept contributions of these books. The libraries are, for the most part, still in shock.

Oh yes, the CPSIA offered a reprieve of one year. For now, they aren't going to require the books to be tested for lead (which destroys the books), but they're still liable for the lead content and can be prosecuted, if not by the federal government, then our state governments.

The Story of a Nutcracker, illus. Adrienne Segur, 1961
So, in a way, I guess an aspect of George Orwell's, 1984 has come true. In one year, our government may just have us burning all those pre-1985 children's books.

Shame on them.

Alenka and Her Brother, illus. Adrienne Segur, 1961If this concerns you, please write your federal legislators, requesting them to save these books from the CPSIA. Here are links to your U.S. Congressional Representatives and Senators.

And, please, share this information with your family, friends, and associates, so that they can add their voices to saving the books.

Here are links to my (January) blogs on other aspects of the CPSIC (yes, unfortunately, there's a lot more to this law).

* How will the CPSIA affect you?
* DATELINE February 10, 2009: Ham Sandwich Lunch Soars to $10,080.

Update 2/25/2009--I've been getting some marvelous responses offline. Here are other sites these folks have shared with me that discuss the issue:

* American Library Association
* Parentdish



  1. VERY nicely presented!! I have a bookstore with over 3,000 pre-1972 books... and that is mostly what my home library is made up of. :-(

  2. This is truly sad. So far the ruling has not affected me but the destruction of books hurts deeply. Orwellian indeed! I was also thinking Fahrenheit 451.

  3. Wonderful post, beautiful books. :-) The more we can get the word, hopefully more will call our representatives about this.

    I have a Mister Linky meme at my personal blog if you wish to participate: "Favorite Pre-1985 Children's Books (CPSIA Illegal To Sell)


  4. So sad. I hate the way the government concerns itself in things that it needn't worry about while ignoring what is ACTUALLY it's responsibility.

  5. I'm 35 and spent the first 10 years of my life absorbing (literally I suppose!) books printed before 1985, everything from 'fresh off the press' right back to the 19th century (my family are collectors). I also grew up in an old house, with lead paint on the walls, drinking water from lead pipes, playing with lead metal toys. There's not a touch of lead poisoning about me.

    My mother works as a librarian, and her branch recently decided that they weren't an archive library any more, but a 'book rental service'. Hence everything published before 2000 was stripped from the collection- regardless of what it was and if it's ever been (or likely to be) re-printed. As you can imagine the whole family now has a large collection of interesting books as the thrown out books were passed through my mother's hands. Her and her other concerned workmates even went to lengths to change a book's publishing date in the computer records, so lovely old copies of Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Enid Blyton and Beatrix Potter would remain in the collection.

    I've heard stories from US people that libraries are throwing out all books printed before 1985- it's ridiculous. People have a hard enough time now accessing things that are old, let alone appreciating them and still seeing them as valid parts of our culture.

    As a solution, you can always send all your books to Australia! Moving off-shore is a traditional solution for getting around the law. ;)

  6. Sigh, i have many of the same books. This is so sad & stupid.
    I never chewed on books & certainly never let my kids chew on them (too precious to me, the kids as well as the books).
    I don't get where all this panic is coming from
    *I also thought Fahrenheit 451*


Thanks for your comments! I always love to get feedback!