“If you build it, they will come.”
Now…was it Theodore Roosevelt or Kevin Costner who said that? Actually, it doesn’t really matter. Everybody knows they were talking about building a homeschool library anyway.
A real library? In this day and age? One with shelves and books and (gasp!) even a reference section, too?
Yep, you got it. Homeschoolers need one. No home should ever be without, at least not if anyone can help it. Here’s why.
For starters, sophisticated, modern technology will never erase the importance of a library — at least not in our childrens’ or their childrens’ lifetimes. All of the e-readers and tablets, online encyclopedias and Wikis, subscription databases and stores of Internet-accessible answers in the world cannot replace the value and convenience of having an actual library in the home. And before things get out of hand, please understand — it doesn’t have to be big and it doesn’t even need to be fancy, either. But it needs to be there for many different reasons — first and foremost, so that the children who live there have unlimited access to decent books.
Next, like the quote says, “…they will come”, and come they will. Books lure people into their spells. More books around the house means more reading is likely to be going on, too. And I’ll give you one guess what more reading leads to.
Finally, nothing in the world compares to a comfy chair and a good book. And let’s face it — no other experience can ever come close to cuddling with mom or dad while drifting off to bedtime stories, either.
Homeschooling families tend to be great lovers of books. Children in these households grow to appreciate the written word and beauty of the printed page. And whether a family has loads of space or just a little, a big budget or just a tiny little one, a homeschool library can easily and inexpensively be built from the ground up, serving readers and students for years to come. These libraries may be passed on to future generations, too, making them an ultra-smart investment yielding oodles and oodles of return.
What constitutes a good library? The answer lies within the family and the interests and ages of the people who live there. While most homeschool libraries include both reference materials and pleasure reading, in reality, they may include anything the family deems worth having on the shelves. And though a variety of materials is desirable so that many subjects are represented whenever they’re needed, the library can really be anything the family wants it to be.
For those just starting a library, the categories list below are pretty much required. Do not been dismayed at the thought of spending thousands of dollars on the kinds of books in this list, either — though titles may be purchased new, good clean books can also be found at library sales, thrift shops, yard sales and even in boxes of cast offs from family and friends.
It is possible to build a solid homeschool library rather easily in a short period of time — say, over the summer. Browsing some of the used book shops alone should yield a respectable number of books by the time school begins all over again. Over a period of several years, many books may be accumulated this way, lending even more credibility to the library and greater selection for the people who live there, too!
Aim to find titles for each of these areas, and then create any additional sections that make sense in your home:
General Reference: Include at least one dictionary, a modern thesaurus, a good grammar/punctuation guide, a world atlas and other references of this general nature.
Specific Reference: Include biographies, history and science encyclopedias, guides and glossaries for specific subjects, and reference materials with one or several academic areas in mind. A metric measuring guide and a Periodic Table or Elements are examples of specific references that could be located in this section. Add others that relate specifically to the courses being taught in homeschool and interests of those living in the home, too.
General Reading: Include books to grab-and-go in this section; that is, books with no specific agenda except to read and enjoy. This area is usually the largest in the homeschool library and the most dynamic, too, because titles tend to come and go as students mature and interests change over the years.
Targeted Reading: The books included in this section are those earmarked to “go along” with specific curriculum products or to enhance/supplement areas being studied in school that year. Novels that correlate with a literature study and supplemental books to be used as extensions of other homeschool activities would be included here.
Parent Resources: Primarily for moms and dads, books in this area should include homeschooling reference, “how-to” books, informational materials, plus any parenting or educational guides that are written with moms or dads in mind. This section may or may not include other helpers, too, such as health and nutrition books, cookbooks, spiritual or inspirational books, medical and first aid reference, or other things of that nature.
School Books: This section includes all of the family’s homeschool and teaching materials, either grouped together, or divided into subject areas (labeled with ‘English’, ‘Math’, ‘Science’, and so on). Student textbooks, worktexts, curriculum books, and teacher keys not currently in use should be located here. Books completed during the school year should eventually be placed here, too.
As to clever and/or inexpensive ways to store and display books in the home, check my Pinterest for a board entitled, “Book Organization and Designs”. And remember, what works in one home doesn’t always work in another — personalize the library just as you would anything else in homeschool.