This is part two of a five-part series in collaboration with Scholastic. Read part one on “Bringing Your Family Together with Books.” For more great reading tips for kids of all ages, please see the Scholastic Parents: Raise a Reader blog.
As society continues to increase how much it reads online, it’s important to remember how much books make your home a joyful and happy place for your children. Just the presence of books around your children gives them the opportunity to explore, discover, and find refuge. And collecting books with your children is a truly creative and thoughtful experience. Here are some ways to build a great home library for your family.
1. Make It Diverse
Consider books that both represent your children’s experience and open them up to new world of possible (Scholastic's beautiful call to action). Books are mirrors and windows for all kids — they not only allow them to see their own experiences validated, but expose them to experiences far beyond their homes, communities, and countries, helping them to grow into caring, empathic citizens of the world. Other things to keep in mind:
- Include the voices and perspectives of many different authors. Ask yourself: Is there a good balance of gender, geography, and culture?
- Provide your child with a wide variety of genres, from poetry to picture books, fiction to comics and graphic novels, silly books to series books.
- Feature some books in different languages, both your own and others.
2. Make Choice Matter
Studies show that choice plays a significant role in helping kids become avid readers. In the most recent Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report (KFRR), 91 percent of kids ages 6–17 said “my favorite books are the ones that I have picked out myself.”
Listening deeply to your kids’ interests and passions will also help you find books that match up with what’s most on their minds. Let them have books that make them laugh or cry. Entertain or challenge. Teach them something new, or simply comfort them at a time of need. Letting them make these choices will help your kids feel their home library represents them in a deep way.
3. Rock the Read-Aloud
Studies show that reading aloud is the single greatest thing you can do for your child as a learner! Many kids enjoy being read to even as they grow as independent readers. In this year’s KFRR, 4 in 10 kids, ages 6-11, who were no longer being read aloud to at home expressed that they wanted their parents to continue reading to them. Want to know the top reason why? Kids find read-aloud time a very special time spent with their parents. To translate this to your home library:
- Create a special read-aloud basket where your kids can store books they particularly love you reading to them. (And don’t be surprised if they choose books they’ve heard many times over!)
- Keep a record of favorite read-alouds, and make sure there are always some in the library.
4. Use Technology for Good
Technology can be a major distraction for your kids as they learn to read, whether they are playing repetitive games on their phones or just distracted by all bells and whistles of the tech experience. While technology can’t replace the power and beauty of physical books, it can foster and fuel your kids’ communication skills and supplement the core library experience at home. Here’s some things to keep in mind:
- Invest in fun and productive apps and websites to accompany your home library will help your kids think about technology differently. Apps such as Storia, Reading Rainbow, Newslea, Ocean House Media, and News-o-matic provide engaging ways for kids to read online as part of a home library experience.
- Online experiences like Google Docs help kids record their reading experiences in journal form; Google Hangouts allows them to chat back and forth with each other about something fun and interesting they are reading.
- Always stay aware of your own use of technology, as no one observes the way you use technology more than your kids. Make sure to practice these tech tips yourself!
Curating your home library will be an ongoing experience. Take time together to sift through the books you have, on a weekly or monthly basis, and see which ones you’d like to feature that week, pop into the read-aloud basket, or even share with another family. By making choices together you’ll not only be experiencing your child’s changing sense of self, but celebrating your child’s life.