Don’t you wish we had really good public libraries here in the Philippines? Where our families can stay for long periods of time to just read and read to our hearts’ content? Where there are a wide variety of books that we can borrow? Where there are regular activities for kids like storytelling, poetry reading, and arts and crafts sessions?
We can dream! But for the meantime, we can create our own home library for our children following the tips outlined below. Remember, it is important to provide our children access to good books in order to let them discover the joy of reading, cultivate their love of learning, and spark their interest about various topics.
Tip #1: Carefully choose your books. Books can easily overtake your home. If you have the tendency to be a hoarder and are not careful with how many you buy, you can end up tripping on stacks and stacks of books on the floor! I know this from experience.
So, create your own criteria when choosing books for your home library. Here are some thoughts to consider: • Classic and award-winning children’s books are nice to have in any home library
• Books that feature TV or app characters should be avoided as these are usually just marketing materials and do not have much literary value.
• Books according to your child’s current interests are a must-have
• Books must also come from different genres, depending on your child’s age: picture books, folktales, fairy tales, fables, historical fiction, fantasy, biography
• Books to supplement what he is studying in school would be helpful
• Fun reference materials such as visual dictionaries, illustrated encyclopedias, and internet-linked history books are also good to have.
The most important thing is that you buy and keep books that your kids enjoy. Creating your own standard makes it easier to buy and let go of books.
Tip #2: Be open to pre-loved books. Brand new children’s books can be so expensive. If you are open to buying pre-loved ones, you can easily build an inexpensive and sizeable library for your kids. While the usual price of a children’s book in regular bookstores is upwards of P300, good quality pre-loved books can be had for as low as P50. (Related:10 Places to Go to for Second-Hand Books)
You should also always welcome hand-me-down books from your friends and relatives whose kids have outgrown their well-loved titles.
Buying or accepting used books will not break the bank and will not move you to tears when they get torn or crumpled in your daily reading time with your kids. If you are concerned about the cleanliness of such books, you can always clean them and wrap them with plastic before allowing your child to use them.
Tip #3: Get organized. An important part of creating a library for your kids is planning how you will store and organize your books. You would want to make sure that all of them would be read.
Here are some ideas to consider when organizing your home library: • Check out the shelves that you have. Plan where you can put them and make sure that the place is well lighted. This makes it easy for your child to find a book.
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• You can have several bookshelves for different purposes. You can have one for books that still do not fit or interest your child; this can be off-limits. Then, you can have a shelf for books that you want your child to read or those that you want to read to your child in the current time period. For very young children, front-facing shelves are ideal so that they can see the cover of the books.
• If you have already acquired a large number of books that you want to keep for a long time, use colored stickers to label them. You can classify them as science references, history references, books on religion and values, and any other classification and system that you see fit.
• Rotate your books. To make sure that your child will not miss a good title, plan to rotate “in use” and “in storage” books every two months or every quarter. This is like having new books each time!
• If you have limited space, you can store books in big plastic boxes and just bring them out to your “in use” shelf when it’s their turn.
Tip #4: Weed out books occasionally. Unless you have an expansive home, you are bound to run out of shelf space sooner or later. And although it would be nice to keep our kids’ books for them as relics of their childhood, we have to be practical. After all, as our children grow older, the more books they are (hopefully) going to read. This means that we will never stop needing space for books.
Weeding out books should be part of your deep cleaning schedule. Here are some ideas on how to go about it: • Look at all the books that you have and get those that your kids seem to have outgrown already. For those books that you personally don’t like and that your kids have not asked for in months anyway,you can immediately put them in the “to give away” bin. Ask your kids for permission for everything else, and negotiate, negotiate, negotiate!
• After you’ve taken out a boxful of books, include your kids in giving them away. Bless your younger nieces and nephews, or donate your books to a poorly stocked barangay library near you.
Acquainting our children with all sorts of books and different authors is a sure way to raise a child who loves to read. It is more likely that they will grow up to be readers if we surround them with good books, read to them everyday, and show them that we enjoy reading too.