Our slight obsession with reading like crazy to our first child (we’re still working on developing this love and attention with our Little Guy who loves to flip flaps, but can’t sit still for Sandra Boynton yet) came after attending a birth and early childhood development class by the beloved Nurse Rita here in Bermuda. Of course, this obsession has been compounded by the fact that I was a middle school English teacher and can’t overstate the importance of creating in your child a love to read at an early age. Now, as a homeschooling parent, I’ve discovered the Sonlight curriculum which is a literature-based curriculum. These three factors have created one major problem in our tiny home: we have a lot of books.
My husband claims it’s ridiculous, but secretly, I know he loves it and although he won’t state it often (out of fear that I’ll run out to our local second-hand shop and get more) he, too, recognises the importance of helping our boys fall in love with books at an early age.
Last weekend, after making a substantial donation to Closetmaid, we sacrificed a corner of our bedroom to create a ‘book nook’ for our boys. Our books are organized by topic (animals, other cultures, author, character, holidays, etc) and I’ve designated a basket for a ‘book return’ to ensure that the books are easily located when we want to put our hands on them. I also use the smaller shelf to display books I want to highlight and use to pique my son’s curiosity on a variety of topics. One cubby is just for books that have been borrowed: from friends and from the library. I love that they aren’t mixed in with our collection and are easy to find when they need to be returned. The super-comfy (bathroom – shush!) rugs are perfect and the boys love them: they play here, grab books here, read here and will often hop up onto our bed after finding books they like. Even Little Guy has figured out how to climb up onto our bed from the bookcase (sigh). Reading buddies also have made their homes in the little cubbies and it delights my heart that some of our favorite characters – Paddington Bear and Corduroy – are among them!
My challenge to you is this: do your children have hands on, easy access to a variety of books on a variety of topics? They need access to fiction and non-fiction, picture books and board books – lots of books. Go to the library. Buy them second-hand. Put them on birthday and Christmas wishlists. Give them as rewards. Read often. I can’t tell you how many times I heard from parents of students at the middle-school level that if reading was not required by the teacher at home (via a reading log – for a grade!), their children wouldn’t read at home. This isn’t a problem that occurs at middle school. The love for books has to be fostered and modeled from young. Or as Nurse Rita so wisely advised us, before they learn to fall in love with cars and trucks and balls (or electronics! And remember, no matter how small of a space you dealing with, there’s always enough room for a special space for books.