Build A Children’s Home Library
Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter to his friend, John Adams, “I cannot live without books.” When Jefferson drew up the designs for his Monticello mansion, he was careful to include a room for his book collection. The room was not to be referred to as the “library.” According to Jefferson, a library is what you call a collection of books, not the room where they are housed. Therefore, the “library” would necessarily be in the “book room.”
Jefferson was a prolific reader. Books were his source of enlightenment, entertainment, and escape. When his home in Shadwell burned in 1770, he mourned the loss of his personal library. Over the years he steadily built up a collection of thousands of books for his Monticello library which developed into the largest personal collection of books in the country. When the British burned down the library of Congress, Jefferson sold his personal library to the U.S. Government which purchased 6,487 books from him.
In Jefferson’s day, owning books was considered somewhat of a luxury. In our day, books are so commonplace we sometimes lose track of what we have and don’t. Some people purchase books for nothing more than decorations.
How then, can we more effectively build, organize, and use our home libraries . . . or shall we say . . . book rooms? And how can we build them so they are kid-friendly?
Here are three starting points:
Avoid book shelf creep
It should go without saying that book shelves are intended for books. However, if you’re not careful, you’ll experience what I call “book shelf creep” which is when non-literary items creep onto the shelves such as knick knacks, framed pictures, statuettes, etc. Use book shelves for books.
When choosing book shelves for children to use, choose shelving units that are kid-height and consider anchoring the unit to the wall for added safety. According to Anchor It! nearly 40 kids a day are injured by a tip-over accident.
Kid-safe shelving extends beyond anchoring the furniture and includes how you clean it. When dusting and polishing furniture, don’t use cleaners with harmful chemicals. Instead, consider using Rustic Touch from Melaleuca or Earth Friendly Furniture Spray from Wal-Mart.
Develop a basic inventory system.
Kids (and adults) are notorious for taking books off shelves . . . and not returning t hem. Add organization to your library by developing a basic inventory system. This could be as simple as having an index card for every book. When the book is taken from the shelf, the index card is marked with the person’s name and left in place of the book.
Include a comfortable reading space
Half of the reading experience comes from the contents of a book. The other half comes from the ambiance of the environment. It’s difficult to enjoy reading if you’re uncomfortable or distracted. Make sure you have a space suitable for quiet reading. This space need not be a separate room. It could be as simple as a corner outfitted with a comfy chair, reading lamp, and side table. Reading should offer some sort of escape for the reader.
Hopefully, these three points will give you a jump start to building a great home library . . . in your reading room.