Creating a Library at Home
Published on: October 10, 2021
Lindsay shares her tried-and-tested tips to instil a love of reading within your family with a home library.
By Lindsay Zielinski
We all want our child to be a great reader. So where do we start? Definitely not with flashcards or tutoring. It’s not even with a fancy private school, either. What if I told you none of that mattered? What if I told you that the number one predictor of reading success happened at home? Would you believe me?
Well, it’s true!
Research from Dr. Joanna Sikora of Australian National University has shown that the number one predictor of reading success for a child is the number of books in the home, not lessons at school, or the parent’s education level. Simply having books in your home will help your child be a better reader. So why not start today? Recent Covid restrictions have given us all the gift of time, and now we can make sure our home libraries are full of books that will help our children to become better readers.
Carefully curate your home library and watch your child fall in love with reading. A library doesn’t have to be a separate room in your home—even just a corner will do. You don’t have to be crafty or a kid lit expert to set up a beautiful library for your growing reader. All you need are quality books, a little bit of time, and a lot of love for reading.
While setting up your home library, keep these tips in mind:
Choose. Where will you put your library? Is it for your entire family? Just the kids? Just one kid? Decide where your library will go, then do your best to make it a reading oasis. Think soft, comfy furniture, good lighting, and of course, shelves. Will you have more than one library area? Think beyond the shelf and add a few baskets of books throughout your home. Areas like the kitchen and the bathroom are perfect places for mini libraries!
Ownership. Can your child reach the books? Is it easy for them to find what book they want? Try to place shelves at their level with the covers facing out. This helps give your child, especially the younger ones, ownership of their reading choice. It also helps them get excited about the books they will read.
Lists. Which books should you buy? There are plenty of lists floating around the internet of the “best” books to get for your child. Some of my favorites are from Read Brightly and the American Library Association. But another fantastic source can be your local librarian! Librarians LOVE to find the right book for the right reader. Start by asking a public librarian near you or your child’s school librarian what they recommend, and start making your own lists. Make sure you include books about topics your child can’t get enough of!
Find. Book stores are great, but is there a local library you can visit and check out books from? Depending on current restrictions, libraries can be easy to access and a beautiful way to support your local community. Other places to look are used books stores and specialty children’s book shops, which are easy to find through a quick internet or social media search.
Care. Books are often made of paper and paper rips quite easily! Don’t be alarmed when a page rip happens—be prepared! Have tape nearby with other book-mending supplies. Any rips or tears can be great conversation starters about book care. Also, think of personalizing your books with a stamp or sticker that has your family name. This is a beautiful way to show pride in your book collection.
Connect. Have regular book swaps with your child’s group of friends. The best way to share a love of reading is to talk about what you read. Plan a fun swap night with themed snacks where everyone shares about the books they read and can take home something new. This is a great way to be environmentally friendly as you reuse books as well.
Create. Your home library doesn’t need to be all brand new books. Invite your child to create books themselves and display them proudly in your home library. Have materials nearby to support their creation like paper, a stapler, and markers. There’s nothing quite as inspiring as the power of knowing you have a story to tell.
Windows and mirrors. Renowned children’s literature scholar Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop uses the metaphor of windows and mirrors to describe what kind of literature children need. When you think of adding a book to your collection, think about the diversity of the books you curate. Try to find books that are mirrors of your child and their life that reflect their experiences. Balance those with books that are windows into other worlds, to help build empathy and connection with those around them. Seek out authors and illustrators with diverse perspectives!
Home libraries are the key to a child’s reading success. Consider building and expanding yours today. And if you ever need help finding the perfect book, ask a librarian!
Photos courtesy of the author.
Bishop, R.S. (1990). Mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors. Perspectives: Choosing and Using Books for the Classroom 6(3), ix–xi.
Sikora, J., Evans, M.D.R., Kelley, J. (2019) Scholarly culture: How books in adolescence enhance adult literacy, numeracy and technology skills in 31 societies. Social Science Research, 77 (January 2019), 1–15. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0049089X18300607
About the Author
Lindsay is an international educator, librarian, and bibliophile. She holds a Masters in Children’s Literature, and loves to support parents as they help their child become a reader. You can find out more on Facebook by searching for the group “Linds and the Library” or on Instagram @lindsandthelibrary.
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