Have you thought about how you store books and the message it’s sending your kids?
I’ll never forget the time, many years ago, when I was interviewing for a babysitting job and the parents said “We are concerned that our kids are too addicted to the TV, and they’re falling behind in reading.”
Well, when I went to their house, I discovered that their living room was overpowered by the most massive TV I’d ever seen and they had one bookshelf- in the hall closet! Their intentions were good but they didn’t realize that the layout of their house sent their kids an implicit message that reading wasn’t important. One of the components of the Reggio Emilia philosophy of education is that the environment is the “third teacher”- i.e. how you set up your children’s physical space affects how and what they learn.
So with that in mind, here are some tips based on how I’ve organized my home to encourage reading!
These tips are based on my experience as a mom, and from my many years as a kindergarten/first grade teacher.
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1. Have lots of books!
This doesn’t have to cost a fortune. You can find children’s books super cheap at library book sales, used bookstores, goodwill, as hand-me downs from other families, or buy used on Amazon. I also personally love Scholastic book orders- ask your child’s teacher if they participate, or if that’s not possible ask any teacher friends or teachers of other children you know. Teachers get bonus points based on how many orders are placed so they’ll be happy to add you even if you’re not in their class!
2.Have a central place to store the bulk of your children’s books, and organize them by topic
We were lucky enough to have these amazing built-ins in our playroom. I have fiction on the left and nonfiction on the right. You can see the blue painter’s tape labels underneath each shelf listing the topic. MyPrimaryParadise has another good system for organizing books into color coded bins Here, and Vanilla Joy has a set of printable labels with 30 different categories that you can download Here. You’ll want to rotate the books that you’re displaying regularly to keep them fresh, so having central, organized storage helps you find new ones that fit your children’s current interests.
3. Have some attractive book displays
Treat your books like royalty! Displaying books with the covers facing out makes kids more likely to read them! Let the colorful artwork be part of your home decor that says “We are readers here! We think books are beautiful and important!” I got my wonderful husband to help me install some rain gutter bookshelves after I read This fabulous article about what a powerful effect they can have in “selling” kids on reading. We bought two ten foot lengths and had them cut in half at the store. I also bought end caps so the books wouldn’t slide off the ends.
If you don’t want to hang bookshelves on the wall, another option that works just as well is a display shelf (yes, I have both of these in my house. I have a lot of books to display!) I bought this one from BabiesRUs (RIP), but I think This is the same thing on Amazon. There are tons of other colors and options available too; some, like This one are cute and colorful, or you could class it up with a solid wood display shelf. The important thing is that you’re displaying books in an attractive way that makes them feel exciting!
4. Keep books where you’ll read them!
I have our big bookshelf and display in our playroom, but the truth is that we spend most of our time with the boys in the living room because it’s more centrally located. So I keep this little basket of books on the coffee table where it’s easy to reach from the couch. I use them all the time, especially if I need to entertain one baby while I’m stuck feeding the other, or both if we’re waiting for something. My favorite thing is when guests will pick out books to read to them. Having a nice selection of books right there makes it so inviting to grab one and read!
(To read the list of board books that we love, click Here)
We like to hang out in our bedroom for a little while in the mornings, so I keep a basket with a different selection to make that time of day feel really special! I keep a Beanie Baby each in the basket too for the boys to hold while I’m reading.
5. Have a special spot for bedtime stories
Maybe when the boys are older we’ll read whatever books they currently like at bedtime, but right now I like to have a specific collection of soothing stories just for winding down from the day (to read about why I chose the stories in our collection, click Here). Pick a convenient spot near wherever your bedtime routine happens, whether it’s their bed, your bed, a rocking chair, etc. These special stories help signal to even the youngest babies that it’s time to prepare for sleep.
This happens to be a shelf in our bedroom, and you can see my personal library books are stacked there too, which brings me to my last point;
6. Make books for adults part of your home as well.
Because children are sponges, and you are their biggest role model! So treat your own books the way you treat theirs: store them in a central location, display a few, and keep them where they’re close by when you have a few moments to read. When your kids see you reading, it sends a message that it’s something worth doing, even for grownups.
True story- all of the pictures in this post are from my own house!
I definitely had a head start in the picture book game, but even if you only have enough books for one or two of these ideas, you can start showing your kids how much you value reading in your family and get them excited about books!
Where do you keep books at your house? Any other ideas for fun and exciting book storage? Please share them in the comments!
“Moms and Crafters” compiled some exciting book storage solutions from around the web so if you’re looking for more ideas you can Check it out here!
Looking for more ideas for what to keep on those bookshelves? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Children’s Books about Firefighters!
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