Posted with permission of Reading Is Fundamental, Inc.
A home library doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive to provide rich reading experiences. Fancy books aren’t necessarily the best way to capture a child’s fancy. But a good family library does involve time and space—time to find materials that will interest all the readers in our family, and space to keep and enjoy them. Here are some questions that might come to mind as you plan a family library:
Where is the best place to set up our library?
Many families have found that setting aside a spot in the home for a family library helps them make reading a part of family life. You don’t need much space; a corner of a room with a bookshelf, comfortable furniture, and adequate lighting is just fine.
How large should our library be?
It’s variety that counts, not size. Instead of focusing on the number of books, keep in mind the special interests and preferences of each member of the family. Ask your children what they like to read, and try to stock up on their favorite subjects and authors. A small collection of books, thoughtfully gathered over time, is better than a large collection that goes largely unread.
How should we display our collection?
In a way that invites the family to dig in! Sturdy bookcases, built-in shelves, and open magazine racks are excellent places to display and store reading material. An orange crate works well, too. A floor-to-ceiling wall system with glass doors might be beautiful to behold, but would discourage a young reader who couldn’t get to the books inside. Be sure to put reading material for the youngest readers on the lowest shelves. You may want to group together books about your child’s favorite topics—from dinosaurs to space travel—or books by a favorite author.
What kinds of reading materials should we include?Anything goes in a family library. Paperback and hardcover books, a dictionary, an atlas, song books, magazines for parents and kids, newspapers, and even mail-order catalogs all have a place. Keep the ages and interests of family members in mind when selecting material, and get their suggestions. Make sure there is something for everyone at every reading level.
A Shelf of One's Own
Children may want a place separate from the family library to keep books that have special meaning or value for them. By encouraging children to set aside their personal favorites, you are helping them express their affection for books, and showing them that you respect their reading.
Here are some tips for helping your children set up their own collections:
Setting up a home library is more fun if everyone in the family gets involved. Here are some activities you can do with your children to encourage their interest in collecting, displaying, and caring for family books—inexpensive projects that won’t require special tools or carpentry skills.
Where to Find Good Books
You can put together a large collection of books without putting out a lot of money. Here are some tips for collectors: