Building a Family Library
Having books and magazines available at home for the family to read is very important to the success of your children as they work toward becoming fluent readers.
The family library does not have to be fancy or expensive to provide rich reading experiences.
Here are some questions you may ask as you plan this meaningful addition to your home.
- Where should we set up our library?
The library should be in a room of the house where all of the family gathers. This might be the living room or the kitchen. Space for a small bookshelf, comfortable places to sit and good lighting are all that are necessary.
- How large should our library be?
It is variety and interest that count, not the number of books. Think about what interests your children and the adults in the house and add books based on those topics. Be sure to get the children’s input! A small collection of books carefully gathered over time is better than many books that go unread.
- How should we display our books?
Open bookshelves are ideal. These do not have to be expensive and can even be made from painted concrete blocks and boards.
If you are handy you can build some shelves that allow the books to be displayed face out. Children’s books need to be on the lower shelves and grouped according to topic (animals, transportation, stories, etc.). Magazine storage boxes are inexpensive and an attractive way to display periodicals
- What kinds of reading materials should we include?
Paperback and hardcover books, magazines, a dictionary,
An atlas, song books, newspapers and even catalogues all have a place in the family library. Make sure there is something for everyone at every reading level. Children under age six need books about real places, people and animals instead of fantasy. Children over six can benefit from small amounts of fantasy such as folk tales and some fairy tales.
- Where can I find these materials?
Of course there are many book stores around the city which offer great variety. Some more economical sources of good reading materials are garage sales, exchanging o utgrown books with friends, second hand book stores, library book sales, and resale shops. Consider making it a tradition to give books and magazines for gifts. Visit the library regularly and display those books along with yours.
Should I choose my children’s books?
It is best to let them choose, at least part of the time. You can offer two or three choices when the children are young and gradually allow them more freedom. For babies and young toddlers choose books that are sturdy such as board books.
Some other thoughts:
- If your family is fortunate enough to speak more than one language, be sure to include books in each language.
- Show your children the proper care of books: hold with two hands, turn pages properly, use a bookmark, don’t write in the books.
- Have a supply of bookmarks in an attractive container easily available and the children will love to pick one out. Libraries and bookstores often give them out for free. Also, consider interesting bookmarks as small gifts. Children love to make their own from beautiful scraps of cardboard, ribbon, dried flowers, stickers, etc.
- Design and use family bookplates which can be made on the computer.
- Add dusting the bookshelves to the list of family chores. A beautiful feather duster makes this a joy for the youngest child.
- Children may want to make their own books and add those to the family library.
- A nice addition is a family vacation or holiday book with drawings, photos and journal entries. Each person is encouraged to add their own thoughts and memories.
- Any damage such as small tears or marks should be repaired at once. If a book is badly damaged or worn, remove it from the library.
- Give your children the message that books are treasures and they will learn to love them.
- Be sure your children see the adults in the family reading and enjoying books, magazines and newspapers.
- Set aside some time each day for reading together. Talk about what you have read. Use the tools from the page called Reading with Your Child to make the experience more meaningful and enriching.