Home Libraries

I am a very low-maintenance person... even my husband would say so.  I have about four shirts that are worth wearing, which can make getting dressed on Fridays tricky, and I have the sum total of probably three pairs of shoes I actually like.  I don't usually wear a lot of jewelry, except for hoop earrings and my wedding ring (which seems non-negotiable).  I wear the earrings because I'm not that skilled with makeup.  I figure if I'm not good at decorating my face, I might as well decorate my head as a diversion.  (This explains why my hair is highlighted.  It helps me compensate for the lack of makeup, but I leave the hair color to the professionals because, some things, you just should not try on your own.)  It's like this... when I put on "nice" jeans and iron a shirt, my children say, "Ooh, Mommy, you're dressed up!"  

All that being said, there is one thing I can't live without.  One thing I always look for when we're out.  One thing I collect.  Books!  And they're sort of my proud high-maintenance moment.  (Every girl should have something high-maintenance, right?) This is our family's "library."  I love calling it that.  It's a tiny room between my kids' bedrooms and I actually paid extra for the shelves and window seat when we built the house several years back.  I was inspired by George Vanderbilt's library after visiting the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC and promised myself that someday we'd have a room we could call a library.  (If you've ever been to the Biltmore, you're laughing because you realize my library is the roughly the size of his produce pantry.)  It doesn't matter, though.  It's ours.  And it holds books we've been collecting for more than 20 years, even a few books I had when I was a kid, like Are You My Mother? and Are You There, God?  It's Me Margaret.  (Remember Judy Blume?)


It's filled with books and blankets and magazines and stuffed characters from stories. Believe it or not (and this is the high-maintenance part), all the books don't fit in this space.  I have them tucked into little places all over the house. 










I wish every child had access to books in his or her home, especially books that belonged only to them, even if it's just a few very special favorites in a little basket kept beside their bed.  Did you know in some of the most literate countries in the world, families are given stipends earmarked for buying books for at-home libraries?  We know the value of reading to children from infancy and we know how critical early literacy and parent involvement are in creating readers and writers.  It's important to educate families about the benefits of supporting this development at home, particularly for students who struggle to make gains as readers and writers.  Some families overlook their community's public library system and non-English speaking families sometimes need guidance learning how to get library cards.  In our school, we work to inform parents of ways they can get books inexpensively so their child can experience "book ownership."  (That's a very powerful thing... to have books that belong only to you, that never have to be returned, that you can write your own name in.)  Places like the Goodwill Bookstore and Scholastic are great places to start collections.  And don't forget yard sales... lots of goodies there.  

What are your ideas?... How have you communicated some of these ideas to the families of children you work with?  What ideas or tips can you share for helping build at-home libraries?  How do you make sure books get home?  



14 comments:

  1. I just discovered your blog through pinterest. I love this post and your library. We have books all over our home. My children are now in college and still devour books. Many of their older books are now in my first grade classroom. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Hi Cecilia,

      I hope your story happens to my children, too. My son is in 5th grade and my daughter's in middle school and they both still love for me to read some of their early stories to them. I think they like the "nostalgia" and the snuggling on the couch. I hope you're having a great new year... have a fun weekend! :)

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  2. As a retiree, I have asked teachers which books they recommend and then start sending them to the teachers to distribute to the children. They are for them to take home. I have also picked up books (as you say) at Goodwill and thrift stores and passed them on to children I thought could use them. Volunteering in the schools just to read to kids even helps, I think.

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    1. Hi Mom :)

      I think that's very generous... I love it. And they're very lucky to have someone like you contributing to their lives. The children may never know who it came from, but I bet they'll cherish it as their own for years to come.

      (My mom should have been a teacher! She loves to help kids and often volunteered in my classroom... that was so fun.)

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    2. Yes, it was fun...I loved it...and I miss that!!

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  3. Andrea, I just found your new blog and I love it! This post was so beautifully written and sounds just like you! Working with you is so inspiring and keeps me motivated. Thank you for all that you do! Congratulations, and "write on" girl! :-)

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  4. Thanks, Melanie! Lately, it's like "Here a blog, there a blog, everywhere a blog blog." Now it's your turn. :)

    I hope you had a great holiday break!
    Happy new year,
    Andrea

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  5. Great blog post Andrea!

    I think that it's vital that we remind parents of the importance of reading with their children. I always try to send my kids home with a book over long breaks. For instance, over Christmas break, I usually buy each of my students a book... same with summer breaks. I try to make sure that I provide students with a wide variety of reading materials in my classroom too.

    Your newest follower,

    ❀ Kate
    Purely Paperless

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    1. Hi Kate :)

      I think that's so nice that you send (and "gift") books to your students. Are you able to find them inexpensively? And where?

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  6. Thanks for sharing your home library. I love it!!! When I was young, I always dreamed of having my own library at home; however, books were expensive back in Puerto Rico. Now that I have my daughter (4 years old) and live in the states, I LOVE to buy books and more books to read with her. The result is a mini-library in her bedroom and more books on every corner around the apartment. Most of our books were bought at our town library from 25 cents to $1. When people donate books to the library, they keep the ones they need and sell the rest. They are in excellent conditions and you never know what your going to find (sometimes books in Spanish and French to include in our collection, too)!

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  7. Hi Airamty,

    I love your story! (And your ideas.) Your daughter is so lucky to have a mother who cherishes reading and collecting books, especially at an early age. You are giving her such a gift, not only in "snuggle time," but in book ownership, too. Your story makes me think of how my mother used to take us to the public library all the time when we were little. I can still remember exactly how the children's section looked, including the chairs (which I LOVED, for some reason). And there was a lake out back behind the library. When we were done checking out our books, we would take bread outside and feed the ducks. It's such a good memory... your daughter will treasure hers, too. :)

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  8. Hi - I love your home library! I just started something new with the kids I work with this year. My own kids are older and many of our favorite read-alouds don't get read at home right now. So- I added a component to the guided reading bags I send home. Now, kids borrow one of my favorite read-alouds each time we switch up guided reading bags. I'm finding families really love reading the high quality books - and hope it gives the kids I work with a little touch of the "home library" feel. Anne

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  9. Hi Anne,

    I love that idea of recycling your own children's books for the benefit of the little ones you work with. The families must really appreciate you sharing something so special with them! :)

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  10. Hi Anne,

    I love that idea of recycling your own children's books for the benefit of the little ones you work with. The families must really appreciate you sharing something so special with them! :)

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