In the last post we discussed the importance of creating a print rich environment in your home. Let’s look at other compelling reasons to build a home library.
Public Library Shelves are Changing
A second reason to purchase your own books is that many public libraries are moving toward political correctness and now no longer contain primary source documents or many worthwhile books. They are clearing shelf space for current topics of interest: multiculturalism, diversity, feminism, teen culture, junk fiction, and America bashing. It is getting harder and harder to find the things we want. When someone in our homeschool group needed George Washington’s Farewell Address, they called me because the public library did not have it and they figured that I would. I did.
Books Don’t Stay in Print Forever
Many of my most treasured books that I repeatedly turn to are no longer available, even in rare book searches. If you want to guarantee that your children and grandchildren have the best reading material, it is wise to procure it when it is available. Think of it as investing generationally.
You Have to Own the Book to Interact With It
Some books become best friends that are pulled off the shelf again and again. They comfort, inspire, speak to our hearts, or give us the courage to keep going. These sorts of friends need to be accessible at all hours of the day and night.
We also have to consider the handling of books that act as instructors. While my children learned to treat books carefully even before they could talk clearly and their childhood books are still in pristine condition, as they got older and began reading books that required an opinion, their relationship with books changed. My children and I underline, make notes, ask questions, and argue in the margins. The material becomes ours in the process; however, public libraries tend to frown on these practices.
Each child needs his or her own personal library. This started at birth when the kids had their own shelf of books in their room. Of course we always had a family read aloud going, but their special books were on a low shelf and were the ones they would look at or bring me to read to them for naptime stories. As they got older and learned to read for themselves, their shelves began to hold their favorite authors that they could read whenever they wanted to. They often spent their allowance money on books. When they began to have unique interests be it the American Civil War, physics, knitting, or music history, the entire family (including grandparents) was on the lookout for books in the field. Today, each of my children has a unique library of their own ranging from favorite picture books to classics to technical treatises in their career fields.
Because the Christ Child received three gifts on his birthday, we also limited our children’s Christmas gifts to three. One was something they needed like a piece of clothing. One was something they wanted. One was a big stack of books – usually our most extravagant purchase and their favorite gift. Christmas afternoon was always spent curled up on the couch reading.
When the children were young, we were desperately poor. However, we always bought memberships to the huge metropolitan library sale preview event. We strapped a huge empty box to a roller cart and fanned out, each person heading to his or her favorite area. We would come back to Dad and the cart with books heaped up in our arms; deposit the books and sprint to the next section. By the end of the evening, the box was overflowing and checkout was time consuming. Sometimes we spent close to $100 (a huge expenditure for us) for hundreds of treasures that would be our vacation, our entertainment, and our learning for the coming year. We didn’t have the resources to take physical vacations of any kind, but from our couch we circumvented the globe, went back in history, and forward in time.
Did it Work?
As I look back over our homeschool experiment, I would have to say that our library and our constant discussions did indeed foster a love of learning. It is a delight to watch my now-adult children continually wrestle with ideas found in books, engage world-renowned professors with hard questions, and constantly enrich their minds with the thoughts of great men and women. Our daily discussions almost always reference a new book they are reading or a suggestion for a book I would like or a new thought they are grappling with.
I would have to agree with Anna Quindlen who wrote in the New York Times, “I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.”
Copyright 2010 Home Life, Inc., PO Box 1190, Fenton, MO 63026-1190, (800) 346-6322, www.home-school.com. Originally published in Practical Homeschooling # 95. A Practical Homeschooling subscription is $19.95 for six issues. Used by permission.
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