Building a Home Library (Getting Your Child Hooked on Reading)
While it is true that books are getting stiff competition from digital toys and interactive games, it is still possible to get your child to develop a genuine love for reading by getting him the right books and creating a space at home for a mini library of well-curated books.
A. The Right Books
1. Interesting to the Child
Include your child in the process of selecting the books for your home library because he has his own likes, interests, and preferences. This way, your child will realize that you value his choices; you will also be assured that the books you buy will not just sit on the shelf and collect dust.
However, you still have a role in finding books that will excite, challenge, and expand your child’s knowledge as well as deepen his love for books. Do not be afraid to add non-fiction books such as books with real-life photography, craft books, cookbooks and how-to books to your usual collection of fairy tales and superhero storybooks at home, and spend time browsing through them with your child. Exposure to different kinds of reading materials other than books will definitely help develop your child’s literacy skills. Likewise, keep in mind that you are raising a 21st century child. Books that have multimedia components such as animation, music, games, and videos together with online books/e-books are options that will enrich your child’s reading experience.
2. Appropriate to the Child’s Age and Skill Level
Always check if the length of the story and the vocabulary words found in it are suitable to your child’s age and reading skills. If your child is an emerging reader, it’s best to have books that have 1-2 lines or sentences per page to build his confidence and still allow him to enjoy the reading experience. You’ll find that some books have set the recommended age of readers written on the back cover as a guide.
3. Good Content and Illustrations
Take a look at the book’s content. Browse through the story and read a few lines to see whether your child can relate to the concepts and experiences being introduced. Stories about death in the family or adoption might not be suitable to your child just yet, so it’s best to skip those first and choose stories that your child can connect with easily, given your cultural and social setting.
Take a look at the illustrations as well since these form a big part of the reading experience. Children are naturally drawn to what is beautiful and visually pleasing.
Books, especially well-made and high-quality ones, come at a cost. But there are ways to get good books and still keep to a budget. Make it a habit to go to secondhand/used bookstores and attend book fairs where books are sold at a discount. You can also join/start book-swap events or borrow books from your local library. Don’t be shy to let your relatives and close friends know that your child welcomes presents in the form of books; you can even show them your and your child’s wish list of books.
B. The Right Space
Remember, no matter what the size, any room or area will do so long as it is inviting, well-lit, and comfortable. It could be that cozy space beside your child’s bed or the bright area beside the big window in the living room. It can be wherever you and your child can comfortably plop down and enjoy a book at any given time of day.
2. Accessible and Safe
Don’t go and buy that lovely, tall bookcase just yet. Get furniture which will allow your child to see the books at their eye level. Check to see if your child can reach for the books and choose what to read without fear of falling books or heavy furniture tipping over.
No need to go over your budget. Let your creativity run wild as you turn discarded cardboard boxes into upcycled bookcases or shelves. You may also want to check out secondhand furniture stores.
About the Author
Jeanne Christine Ramos-Co is an education consultant and teacher. She earned her teaching degree from the University of the Philippines and has been teaching children in preschool and the early grades for the past 12 years. She has also conducted workshops and trainings for school principals, teachers, health workers, and mothers.