How to Build a Home Library

By Children's Book Council

You want your children to have the best start in life, so you work hard to make sure their school has the best resources and your children attend the best after-school activities to help send them down a path to success. But having a place of discovery where your child can learn the importance and joy of reading is equally as valuable on the road to success.

Maya Angelou once said, “Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.”  

In fact, book ownership has been found to be directly linked to reading success in children. Research also shows that parents who have books in their homes increase the education levels of their children.

Creating a Home Library

While many are fortunate to have local libraries and librarians who help to nurture children’s innate curiosity, that curiosity and discovery should not have to end at your home’s front door.  A home library that is curated with the right books will help foster an environment of learning.

You can start by first evaluating what you want to achieve through the addition of a home library. Convenience? Diversity? Enrichment? Once you have established what kinds of books you want to comprise your home library, it’s time to start collecting.

Here are some budget friendly  tips for getting started on your own home library.

Step 1: Start Small

  • Quick-start your collection with books borrowed from your school and public library.
  • Expand your home library by looking for additions at garage sales, thrift shops and used bookstores.

Step 2: Give the Gift of Reading

Make it known to family and friends that reading is important in your family. Consider working with your children to create book wish lists for birthdays and holidays.

Step 3: Curate a Collection

  • Explore resources in your community: local foundations often have book grants, and “unlikely places” such as doctor offices sometimes have free books to give away.
  • The important thing is to include some surprises—books that your children can “stumble on” and discover with delight.
  • The “best” books for your children, ultimately, are the books that will make them want to curl up on the couch and read together as a family. Have fun with your home library—and make it truly your own!

Get a Head Start!

If your child doesn’t have a series they love already, or you want to expand their horizons with some new titles, consider picking a few titles from a book list. The Children’s Book Council, the American Library Association and the International Reading Association are just a few places you can find lists of recommended books for every age group.

Reading Beyond

This list of 75 books (25 books for grades K-1, 2-3, and 4-5) provides guidance to anyone interested in discovering books for children who read at an advanced level and are seeking more challenging, but still age-appropriate, books.

CBC-ILA Children’s Choices

Since 1974, thousands of children have voted annually on their favorite titles. The Children’s Choices list of winning titles is co-sponsored by the CBC and the International Literacy Association (ILA).

ILA Notable Books for a Global Society (NBGS)

Each year since 1996, the Children’s Literature and Reading Special Interest Group (SIG) of ILA has compiled a list of 25 diverse and inclusive books for preK – 12th grade.

NCTE Notable Poetry Books (National Council of Teachers of English)

The annual NCTE Notable Poetry Book List is a useful source of a wide variety of poetry collections, anthologies, and verse novels for grades K-8.

National Network of State Teachers of the Year

This list is divided into five sections (for grades preK – 9th grade) and recommends a wide variety of titles on social justice issues such as disability stereotypes, gender, immigration, inclusion, LBGT, othering and racism.

Caldecott and Newbery Award-Winning Books

The Caldecott and Newbery awards—given by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) of the American Library Association (ALA)—are the most famous children’s book awards. Grab a few for your shelf!

Janet Wong, Christi Showman Farrar, and Susan Polos are members of the ALA-CBC Joint Committee, a group of volunteer book experts—librarians, teachers, authors, and publishers—representing the American Library Association and the Children’s Book Council.

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