Do your kids tear up books? Here's a solution!


Books are a special and valuable commodity. We want our children and students to respect books. Long before our time, children and adults alike were kept from books. Wealthy families provided their children with the luxury of literature but for many community members - books were something to be longed for.

Everything changed after the installment of public libraries. People of every walk, race, color, sex, religion and economic status were given the freedom to read!

Does that mean everyone takes advantage of the library? Sadly, no. However, it does mean that anyone who wants to read will likely find access to a plenitude of books...just minutes from their dwelling place.

Even though we may attempt to instill a respect of books in our children, many kids love to tear them up. Our daughter was one of those children. Soon after birth she promoted herself to Book Tearer Extraordinaire.

She ripped chapter books, short stories, collector books and even managed to shred board books right down the binding line (the only books she never tore up were her PCS books - but that's another article altogether). 

Here is a photograph demonstrating a tad bit of her handywork, many months ago:


This book happened to be a favorite of her brother, back when he was younger. He was quite devastated that the book's desmise ended in such a horrific and tragic way.

My mother has worked in schools and classrooms for as long as I can remember. I phoned her up one day, in tears, and said: "Mom. She just won't stop. Every paper book we had on the kid's bookshelf has been annihilated. She seems to find great joy in tearing up our books. Help me!"

My mother replied: "Go to the Dollar Store. Buy her some coloring books. Tell her she is allowed to rip those up. Some kids just love to hear the RIP sound. Give her cheap books to tear up and explain that every other book is off limits. That will hopefully satisfy her urge to tear."

It worked. We explained to our daughter that the coloring books were hers to do with as she pleased. If she wanted to tear them up, fine. However, all other books were off limits. We allowed her to rip, tear and destroy the coloring books - to her heart's content. Within a few months, she had passed through the phase of tearing books.

At that point, her father took her to the local library and allowed her to check out her very first library book. Oh, the joy!


ABOUT the Author:

Shara Lawrence-Weiss is the owner of Mommy Perks, Kids Perks and Personal Child Stories. She has a background in early childhood, nanny work, published freelance, marketing and special needs.


#13 Monica 2013-06-04 03:33
I know this is an older article, but maybe someone still reads the comments.

My 4-year-old has recently started tearing books up. Paper books, board books, doesn't matter. She rips apart every page, cover to cover, and hides them all under her pillow. Will the junk mail/books just for ripping idea work here, or is she just being willfully destructive because mean Mommy makes her go to bed at night? I love books, and this is breaking my heart. She cries when I tell her I can't buy her any more books if she ruins them, but it doesn't stop her from doing it again.
#12 Site owner 2012-04-30 08:56
Thanks for the comment, Carley! I do hope the tips help you. I never removed books from our home. I simply gave my children outlets for their ripping and coloring and that did solve the issue for us. We also continue to talk often about taking good care of books and we discuss how special books are, etc. I might suggest that with your Curious George book...take the pieces and make a collage from the book (if you still have the book). You can save that in your son's memory box and although the book is no longer in-tact, you will at least have the memory from the gift your students gave to him.
#11 Carley 2012-04-26 13:20
I'm so glad to find this article. My two year old has just started tearing books and I am heart broken. Pop up books, board books and a curious george book my student's gave me when she was born have been decimated. Most of the things I've read on line have been very discouraging--t o take away books entirely, or stories of children who are 5 and 6 and still not taking care of their books. These were great ideas and more encouraging!
#10 Shara - owner 2011-07-31 16:12
Hi Sim: I would suggest that you offer her some magazines to tear up. She may just want to hear the "ripping" noise!

Also talk to her about the importance of respecting our books - that they cost money and that tearing them up is not the best way to treat them. Let her know that by taking good care of her study books, she will learn to understand the valuable information found inside.

I might also suggest that you ask her WHY she is ripping the books. At age 5, she is probably talking well and if something is bothering her, that could be her reason for ripping the books. Is anything going on at school or at home that's making her feel upset? Find out!! ;-)
#9 Sim 2011-07-18 02:06
Hi, if a little girl who 5 years old and study 2nd years in kindergarden, tear her own study books recently. Do you have any solution?
#8 sagemom 2011-07-07 11:26
Such a great idea.

Note to self: Don't throw away old magazines, catalogs, coloring books. etc.


Thanks for sharing!
#7 Guest 2010-05-26 16:48
I gave my son catalogs, advertisements and all the junk mail!
#6 Guest 2010-04-07 16:10
Wise mom you have. My daughter tears books up like it's part of the process - open, turn page, then TEAR! Yikes... there goes a beautiful book & money down the drain. Thankfully, she's passed that phase too, well... somewhat. Once in a blue moon she's compelled to TEAR. Guess she misses the tearing sound.
#5 Shara 2010-03-28 04:37
A ripping party? How fun :lol: Good idea; thanks for sharing! (Also great that they are happy to help clean up - yay)
#4 MaryBeth 2010-03-27 16:41
This is a great suggestion. I have quadruplet 3 year olds and 1 of mine did this with every book she could get her hands on last year. I did something similar, I gave her junk mail catalogues and old magazines. I told her they were her special ripping papers and also gave her a plastic grocery bag to collect the pages when she was finished. All four of the girls have a blast when we do rippings and don't mind cleaning up after, which is not the norm in my house! :D

Add comment

Security code