Build Your Own Home Library
© Beverley Paine, 2004
We all want to help our children become successful and active readers. Studies have shown over and over again that the following factors are important indicator of reading success:
If a child is surrounded by books, and the parents regularly access those books for a variety of reasons, reading will become a natural part of his or her life.
If you have a decent supply of books at home you will rarely suffer from the frustration of not being able to access information to those intriguing questions children ask every day! Select books wisely for the accuracy and accessibility of information. You don't have to spend a fortune: libraries are always updating their catalogues and selling off old books at library sales. It's a quick and easy way to build up a comprehensive reference library.
Let your family and friends know that you're always on the look out for books. When they clear out their shelves or attics they'll think of you and bring you a box or two. If you don't want to keep them all, pass them on in the same manner, or take them to an opportunity shop. You'll find a lot of pre-loved treasures lurking in op shops. I've often found books I loved as a child and couldn't resist buying them to show my children.
Some books we've found essential include:
We supplement these with books from the library every week on topics we're currently interested in as well as a large range of fiction. Our library has an extensive tape and video collection too; our library bags are usually bulging!
To make your books last a life-time, teach your children how to handle them with respect. Clean hands are a must. Discourage tearing, folding down corners, colouring or writing in books not designed for those purposes, especially library books. Work together to repair any damaged pages or bindings, or to cover books in clear plastic.
It's silly to expect that a child eating or drinking will be able to keep a book clean, so make it clear which books can and can't be used when eating. People love to read when eating, and it's good to encourage this, so long as it doesn't completely destroy social communication within the family! Until he was a fluent reader, Thomas would often complain if the rest of us read at the dinner table. We do our best to make dinner a social occasion now, but everyone tends to read at breakfast and lunch!
Help the children their own bookmarks, or buy them bookmarks as a special treat. They make great stocking fillers at Christmas, especially if the bookmark is matched to a much wanted title! Your favourite gardening book can have a permanent pressed flower bookmark, or you could use a pretty feather the children found as a bookmark for the bird book.
I can't emphasise enough that books have to be accessible. It's not good locking them away in a glass cabinet, although if you have century old classics or first edition comics you are collecting for sentimental value or investment, do keep these safe! By and large though, children need to be able to reach books, touch them, turn their pages, and read them.
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Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active support of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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Beverley Paine, The Educating Parent
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