Today, friends, we’re going to talk about setting up a Library Center at home for your child. On this blog, I give you lots of ideas about how you can set things up at home to keep your child thinking and thriving. The Learning Centers that I suggest have a lot of evidence in how they support children’s creativity and development. Books do a great deal to support your child’s development, which is why Library is the first Center that we are going to set up in your home!
How does a Library Center support your child’s development? Let’s look at a couple of ways:
- A Library Center supports your child’s social and emotional development by helping them to learn about people who are both similar to them, and different. They can develop empathy for characters who must overcome struggles and challenges. They can also learn to cooperate with each other by retelling stories and sharing books.
- A Library Center supports cognitive development by helping children to understand the world around them by introducing them to things that they have not experienced themselves. They also develop an understanding symbols, by connecting pictures to words, and words to sounds.
- Books support language development in a BIG way! Children can learn about all aspects of literacy – reading, writing, listening, and speaking. They learn new words and their meanings through context, and they learn skills for comprehending what those words mean.
Now, let’s get busy. It’s time to start putting together your Library for your child! Many of the things you need to make a Library, you’ve already got. We’ll talk about where to source the rest of it in a few minutes. But first:
What Should My Library Center Look Like?
There are a few things that are pretty crucial to having a successful Library area. We want your children to love reading, looking through, and exploring books on their own, not only during story times with you! In order to do that, your Library has to be inviting to children. It should include space for looking at books or listening to recordings, writing, and ways to retell familiar stories. Your books should be displayed in such a way so that your little ones can see the covers and select the books that are interesting to them. Think comfort – pillows, beanbag chairs, and stuffed animals are all great additions to a Library Center. If you’re a crafty mom, putting up book jackets, illustrations, and other inspiring images on the walls in your little Library will add color and atmosphere!
The books that you choose should be developmentally appropriate for your child. Younger children love books that are predictable, have rhyme and rhythm, and are familiar. Board books are a great addition here, too, to help little hands learn to manipulate the pages of a book with a little more ease. It helps to have a wide variety of books, and rotate them out every
Use books that are in good repair, and have plenty of beautiful pictures inside. When the books that you have available are torn, dirty, or otherwise abused-looking, that sends the message to your child that this isn’t actually an important area to be in (when, in fact, it’s one of the MOST important places!)
Story Retelling Materials:
If you want your child to practice building comprehension skills through reading, you’ll want a way for them to retell the stories they’ve read. Luckily, once they’re familiar with a story, most children will be eager to retell it back to you, to each other, or to an eager audience of stuffed animals or pets! Here are a few different materials that you can include in your Library Center to encourage this:
- A flannel board.
- A story clothesline (You can use a length of clothesline and some clothespins to hang a few key pictures from a story in the correct sequence).
- Puppets (paper bags, spoons, popsicle sticks, or cloth are all great materials for making story puppets).
- A magnetic board.
An excellent, but not crucial, addition to a Library Center is a way for children to listen to stories without you having to read them. This promotes a feeling of independence in your child (I can read along all by myself!) and it gives you a chance to get a few things done while they’re occupied!
Back in the day, a cassette or CD player, along with related story tapes, was the technology of the day. However, now we have options such as YouTube videos of books being read (you’ll have to monitor this so they don’t get sidetracked, though), or audio books on devices like phones or iPads.
We’re lucky enough to have a Kindle Fire, so I can download books for my children to listen to as they read along in a physical book.
The awesome thing about children is that they love, love, LOVE to show what they’ve learned, and to try to copy what they’ve seen done. This means, with the proper materials and opportunities, children will begin to attempt to copy and write their own stories with hardly any prompting from you! You’ll need a small area for your child to sit and work, and materials such as paper, pencils, crayons, letter strips (to show them the alphabet), and maybe some letter and number stamps. I like to organize these materials on the work table in plastic bins, which I have drawn little labels for so that they can easily return them to their proper place!
Now the REAL Question: Where do I Find This Stuff?
There are a bunch of different ways to set up your Library, many of which are not particularly expensive at all. Let’s start with the furniture:
Bookshelf: The one that I’ve got is something like this:
I got it from another teacher when I was just starting out, but that doesn’t mean that you can only get it like I did. As you can see, they’re totally available for purchase. You can also use something like this, or even a regular bookshelf if you set it up correctly. The main thing is to have your books facing outward so your child can see the covers and make an informed decision about what the book of the moment is going to be!
Table: I just went ahead and put a tiny chair that I picked up at a garage sale next to my coffee/activity table that I have right beside my bookshelf. Paper, pencils, crayons, and any other materials they need are right there in little bins, labeled and accessible. For this part, I really just used things that I already had around the house. However, if you’re feeling fancy, you could always go for something like this:
Comfy Reading Furniture:
I got my beanbag chairs off of Craigslist.com for a steal, but I’ve also ordered some things from Amazon as well:
My children LOVE their flannel board, and there are a TON of characters that you can order on Amazon already pre-cut! Or, if you’re way more crafty than I am, you can make your own little felt characters with some fabric and a glue gun. For older children, this can be a great activity to go along with books that they’re reading! Here are the ones that I’ve got at home:
Now, the Books:
Books are a BIG topic, and there are LOTS of places to find them. Check out the link at the bottom of this page for a FREE list of resources for you to stock your library at little or no cost!
Ready to start? Let’s get moving!
Your action steps for an awesome library are to:
- Set up your space-bookshelf, table, comfy pillows, blankies, and stuffies.
- Arrange your books (once you’ve explored a good source for them. You don’t need 7 million to get started, though) face out, so that your children can see them.
- Make a way for your child to reenact their favorite stories (flannel board, story clothesline, etc.)
- Get ready for some awesome reading fun!
Click here to get a FREE list of resources for stocking your child’s library with awesome books that will get them started on the right path to love reading!