Last week I finished putting together the boys' home "research library." We plan to use the public library extensively, but it is nice to have some "starter" materials at home in order to strike while the iron is hot.
The research library is actually housed on two bookcases in our "playroom." We call it the playroom despite the fact that the only toy in it is a wooden fire station that doesn't fit in our toy library. It looks like it is difficult to get to the bookcase behind the treadmill, but there is more space than appears in the photo and the boys are small.
These are the same Carson Bookcases from Target that I used in the school room. In fact, you may remember that I originally planned on getting rid of the red couch that resides in that room. (School room tour here if you need a refresher.) When I didn't, it meant that I over-ordered 2 bookcases. I didn't return them because I had a feeling I would be able to use them elsewhere. Plus, I was able to cannibalize the shelves from each kit to add to the bookcases in the school room. I cut new shelves for these with a circular saw and a jigsaw. The original shelves have an additional piece of trim across the front.
Our book collection was previously housed inside the toy library with the spines facing front like this:
I find that my boys use the books MUCH more frequently if the covers are exposed and it is easier to take them out and return them. So, I picked up the red bins (2 for $3 at Walmart). The bins are filled loosely so that it is easy to flip through and expose all of the covers.
Now that I've reorganized our storage, the boys are using the books at least an extra hour a day. Kal-El in particular is spending a lot of extra time reading independently and making "discoveries" of books we've owned for years.
I used my standby Self-Adhesive Business Card Holders to make label holders for the front of each bin. The books are loosely categorized: I Can Read (2 bins. Not books from the "I can read" series, but rather books Kal-El can read by himself regardless of author/publisher), Science, Things to Do, History, Animals, Plants, Space, How Things Work, Our Earth, Our Body, Geography, Music. The books on top of the bookcase on the right are all fiction that are beyond Kal-El's reading level that I choose from to read to them.
The "things to do" category has books for when the kids need "something to do", books like "Things You Can Make from Things Around the House," "Magic Tricks," "I Spy," "Puzzles and Mazes," etc., The "How Things Work" category might have "simple machines," a book on trains, etc.,
I still use LibraryThing to keep track of what we own. It is nice to go online to my own "library catalog" and check if I have a book on "the tundra" or "dogs" rather than dig through everything we own. I use a Barcode Scanner just like a real librarian to add and delete books from our collection. However, I no longer label all of the books with their Dewey decimal label.
You can find my post "LibraryThing Tips and Tricks" here!
You can see pictures of one of my favorite homeschool libraries (Preschoolers and Peace) here!
Deb at Living Montessori Now! recently wrote a nice post on organizing homeschool libraries as well.
And finally, just for fun, this is the paragraph written by Jonathan Feagle that inspired me to do this project:
If the students don’t seem to be responding [to the great lessons, key lessons, impressionistic charts], it could be that the lessons aren’t exciting enough or are too complete (too much information). To excite an interest, the teacher must first be excited herself. To keep lessons from being too complete, not all the information on a topic should be given. It’s important to leave the child with restlessness to know more. After a lesson, a short stack of books on the subject can be left out for the child’s use, with other books available in the history section of the room. It’s important to have a good library, but it shouldn’t be too large as that can be overwhelming to the child and would also do away with the need to use the public library. The class should be taken as a group to the library early in the year to meet the librarian, get their own cards and learn the hours. They should then be helped to return their books on time.