Build a Home Library for the Kids
Encouraging your children to read is easy when you give them a special space to curl up with a book or two. A private, cozy area with cushions, blankets, and lighting within their reach (not to mention a great selection of books!) shows that reading can be fun and individualized.
The most important thing to consider is that your home library should be in a dedicated space. This is more than just a wall of bookshelves inside a playroom or bedroom. Consider a quiet corner of a living area, an unused dining room, an unfinished basement or loft or an alcove under the stairs. If you don't have any such area, get creative and construct a semi-permanent fort or tent in the corner of a living space or bedroom. It doesn't have to be fancy or formal-- it just has to be set apart in some way from the rest of the house's general activity to make it special.
Remember, books do not tolerate much dampness or aridity, so build this reading space in an area where you can control temperatures. But don't let this discourage you from taking advantage of an outside club house or garage space that can be used in warm climates or seasons. Creating a specialized space for your child is more important than a few damaged books.
Consider whether your home library will be a permanent fixture in the life of the house. Adjustable shelves can fit large picture books and then be reconfigured to accommodate smaller novels as the child ages. Consider bracketing single shelves to the wall if floor space is at a premium. Books are heavy and can easily take a toll on shelves, so the boards must be strong. Place metal wall brackets in at least 3 points to prevent sagging in middle sections.
Bookcases are another option, of course. Make use of wall space by using tall, rather than wide, bookshelves. Attach bookcases to the wall for safety reasons. Drill screws through the bookcase backing into the wall, and into a wall stud if possible. If the shelves are particularly tall and your child is small, purchase a sturdy step stool for access so they can independently reach for what they want. Or, consider installing a charming library ladder that slides on a rail and rolls on the floor.
Do not store books in a large bin. While this may seem like a good storage choice, it is a good way to destroy books. Toddlers can get frustrated digging through a mess of books to locate the one they want, and no matter what the age of your child, it's best to have easy access. If you don't have access to bookcases or shelving, you can stack books against a wall or other bordering surface. No matter what your storage solution, this is your child's library, so allow them to organize the books according to what makes sense to them if they are old enough to decide. Color, theme, author, title...let your child personalize their organization to what appeals to them. This just emphasizes even more that it's their space.
Make the library or reading space as cozy as possible. If you have wall-to-wall carpeting, great! You can still layer rugs and blankets to create a warm space with lots of texture, color, and comfort.
Make the furniture suitable to the age of the child. A five year old may not feel comfortable in a large armchair. But they will probably love one in their size. Foam chairs and bean bags are inexpensive, and don't forget the pillows! Don't forget the floor, either. Kids love to lounge on the floor with comfy pillows and blankets, so make sure to provide that option as well. If you have the space, a small table and chair set may be useful, too.
Overhead lighting is helpful when perusing titles. If you have the option, install dimmers to create ambiance. Floor lamps are suitable if the light needs to come from behind a chair, over the reader's shoulder. Make sure that the switches are accessible to your child according to their height and ability. For spaces that may not have electrical outlets, install lamps that are battery operated. And don't forget to keep a flashlight or two in the space for reading ghost stories under blankets.
If you have the wall space, hang up some posters or prints from favorite picture books. A world map or globe may bring an adventurous feeling to the space, while twinkle lights provide a magical feeling. And make sure there are a few stuffed animals to practice reading aloud to.
A home library for kids can be both educational and fun. Provide them with a space all their own, and you will encourage lifetime readers.