Setting up a home library
by Ms Zubaidah Mohsen
The ever-growing body of scientific knowledge and research about brain development constantly reminds us that early stimulation with books and reading is the best way to nurture literacy development, particularly in the important early years.
Books and reading should therefore be a natural and an essential part of a child's growing years. While it is important that parents should be exemplary role models in reading, it is also essential that they pave the way to reading by providing an environment that is rich in reading materials. One of the ways to achieve a reading culture in your home is to setup a cosy home library.
Each member of the family should have a place where he can keep his own books. Even children and toddlers should be entitled to a place to call their own.
This article aims to provide a simple guide on how to set up a library at home.
To begin, run through the following list of questions (a checklist) to obtain a clearer picture of the current state of collection and space before plunging into the physical setup of a home library:
1. Who are the target users?
Is the setup to be reserved for children only or is it a place for all members of the family?
2. What is the size of the library in terms of space and collection?
• Number of books currently in possession
• Number of shelves available or allocated for library use.
Any future additions possible?
3. What is the type of collection in possession?
A good mix of stories, information materials, even reference materials like dictionaries and encyclopedia, and magazines?
Information books only?
4. How to organize the collection?
Possible ways to arrange collection:
• By author (alphabetical order of surnames)
• By simple colour coding of different subjects (books on management have red dots, books on alphabet with yellow dots)
• By sections of owners/members of family (For Mama, For Michael)
• Use simple stickers to indicate similar subjects (number books, alphabet, nursery rhymes)
5. How to acquire books?
Be on the lookout for book sales by libraries and bookstores, discounts by book stores, etc
Do regular shopping. Keep check of the regularity of your purchases.
It is important to know the target users, as they would determine the physical arrangement of the collection as well as the type of collection to acquire for the home library. For example, if the library were targeted at children, the collection would have to be arranged for easy access, that is, to be within their reach. As such, for very young children such as toddlers, books would have to be placed on the lower (or lowest) shelves so that they could freely explore and pick up the books of their choice.
Acquiring knowledge about the suitable materials to provide for the target groups would be good start. Visit your neighbourhood libraries to collect book lists on specific topics. Surf the Internet for library and information websites and look out for listing of books for the different age groups. These ideas will kick start your home library setup.
Below is an example of a home library. Books for the parents are placed on the top shelves and books for the children are placed on the lower shelves. Notice that the shelves are open and the reading area is free of distractions.
On a concluding note, a home library setup is an ongoing venture that requires regular housekeeping. New reading materials must be acquired on a regular basis over a widespread interval rather than in large volumes at sporadic intervals. Keep in mind that while the home library sets the reading ambience, it is the quality time that parents spend with their children reading that provides the child with a head start in literacy development.
Here is a list of recommended websites that provide good tips on setting a cosy home library.
1. My home library
This is a good starting point to pick up tips on setting up your own library. It provides bookplates, which you can use to personalize your collection. You can also read up on the book reviews and pick up ideas, tips and tricks in building up your home library.
2. PBS parents
• Titles for preschoolers (3-5 years)
• This site gives a list of suggested titles for preschoolers (3-5 years). This would be useful as a start in building up your home library. The collections come in both hardcover and paperback, and will improve any basic home library.
• Titles for early school-aged children (5-7 years)
• Similar to the one above, this site gives a list of suggested titles for early school-aged children (age 5-7 years).
3. Building a home library
• The Royal Bank of Canada Monthly Letter Vol 46, No. 8
• An article that discusses setting up a home library.