I am woken up by the most perfect alarm – the sound of pages turning. I have two book-loving boys who wake me in the morning by rushing into the room and hopping onto the chaise lounge in the corner. A tower of books from bedtime reading the night before is handy, or they lug a few more from their bedroom.
That tall stack is my snooze button… generally twenty minutes… I’ll confess to pretending sleep while really watching the two of them immersed in pages. And this is just one of the many benefits of a big home library…
I did nothing special to create this love of books and reading in my boys. I simply followed a reading teacher friend’s advice: have books everywhere.
It started as a few baskets of board books. I’d leave one by the rocker for naps and bedtimes. Reading or sleeping, that was the choice at naptime (If I was lucky, they did both!). I put baskets on the ends of their beds, and they could read till they fell asleep.
Our home library grew to more than 14 cubicle bins full as we asked for books as gifts, frequented book sales, and received hand-me-down books from friends and family (well-loved and usually great titles that pass both the kid and parent test).
Yes, we love the public library, and go often – it’s our favorite resources for “test-driving” new titles. But there are so many benefits of a big home library too.
Benefits of a Big Home Library
Having books everywhere sends a positive message: we love books. LOTS of books. ALL KINDS of books! This is a message kids soak in for years until being surrounded by books becomes natural. It’s not unusual for my boys to walk past a stack of books, and drop on the floor to read before continuing with their play.
With a big home library kids are exposed to a wide variety of books. I often slip in fresh (to them!) titles between old favorites, and at least they get a look through, or I’ll remember to read it to them at bed. Poetry books, Little House on the Prairie, Fancy Nancy, biography picture books… you might not think preschool boys would be interested, but… just slip it in. My boys are fascinated by how Laura and Mary Ingalls created thimble drawings on cabin windows in wintertime.
It’s important for children to “follow a theme” in their reading. Kids naturally latch onto favorite books or topics. Because I’m always curating (fancy word for frantically-flipping-through-bins at the library’s book scramble, er sale!) our book collection, we have quantities of books about space, books about trains, and books by the same author. Did they love the turtle book? Grab another book about turtles, or reptiles, or find a fictional story with a turtle character. The familiarity of content provides a jumping off point for learning new vocabulary, shifting to a new genre, or extending into other book activities for kids.
Book series or author studies are also a wonderful opportunity to extend your child’s joy of reading. Again, children gravitate toward the familiar, whether that is a topic, book illustrator, or author’s style.
One drawback to library loan is… you have to give the books back! My youngest sobs on library return day (after I’ve extended my renewals and usually a few days overdue!). Our large home library spares us the agony of saying goodbye to books, and lets us continue reading and re-reading favorites until the pages fray, and we can read that book with our eyes shut tight.
Building a large home book library isn’t difficult. Ask for books as gifts, scope library book sales and tag sales, and check with friends and teachers to see if they are cleaning out their shelves!
Besides all these benefits of a big home library, being surrounded by books – doorways into new worlds – is a treasure in and of itself!
Julie Kieras is a former English teacher turned stay-at-home-mom. She is quietly amassing the world’s greatest little home library and loudly enjoying life as a mom of two rambunctious boys. All while sharing ideas and tips for natural living and play on her family blog HappyStrongHome.com!
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Studies have shown, over and over again, the benefits of being a life-long reader and we agree! We couldn’t love books more. Here are a few more tips that will help make reading even more magical at our house: