Over many years, we have accumulated LOTS of books. It has been helpful to us as a family of eclectic learners to have literature on a variety of subjects because we basically never know when we are going to need to look something up! Our family is quite fond of rabbit-trailing and having your own mini-library at home is one way we try to help keep the love of learning alive. It also helps us deep-dive so we don't have to leave home to attend the library (even though we do love it there!) There's something special in being able to access these sorts of materials in your own home I think. It's a privilege and one I am especially thankful for.
Let me give you a few examples that have happened here before. We've been outside and a beautiful bird has stopped by. Someone will go in and get our bird identification guide book.
One time we decided to learn about our teeth (before a dentist trip) which led into a mini human body unit with a lapbook and lots of reading of books (like this one below) where we read about bones.
Another example. Someone has been watching something in Horrible Histories which has led to a question about knights and chainmail. Off to the bookshelf we go to our history section to pull out one of our books on armour!
And here's a last example. My kiddos are feeling a bit bored and want to create some kind of hands-on-science experiment. Off they go to the science section of our bookshelf to grab down one of our fave science books that will walk them through an experiment they are yet to try.
Here are some of my top tips to consider when starting your own homeschool library
Over the years I've attended about a million book sales, op shops and garage sales ;) and have grabbed LOTS of books that I have thought seemed interesting. I look for books with engaging pictures and easy to understand language that cover a variety of interests and topics. I also love grabbing resources that present information in different ways. For example, I love the travel guides my SIL gives us after she has travelled abroad. I keep the books in our geography shelf but I also love to keep postcards, maps and other ephemera too.
Every year our kiddos attended a local book sale. It became one of our 'family culture things'. We all look forward to it so much: the kiddos choose their own books and I choose some that will be more general reference materials.
Create a way to sort your books. Some people go by spine colour, others by alphabetical ordering. The most intuitive system for me is to have a little shelf on our cube bookshelf (yep the stereotypical homeschooling essential! hahaha) dedicated to a single subject. Our subject headings are 'nature', 'history', 'art', 'science'. Then we have baskets that hold our most frequently used books in subjects. That's just us. Though you have to do what is right for you! It might take a little time (or years in my case!) but once you find what works for you, it's easier to manage and add to.
I know it sounds sacrilegious almost but I have found that having a regular book cull helps us in a few ways. It frees up valuable bookshelf space for books we will ACTUALLY use. Passing on what we are not using might bless someone else who is looking for that one I've been holding onto but not using. I have also found less stuff (in our house in general) helpful to practically manage.
When my little ones were toddlers, I had baskets of board books around that they could grab for me to read to them, or just play with and stack. As they got older, I always tried to have books around that kids could grab: books in baskets near the table that I could read over dinner or lunch, books that they had chosen to read to themselves and of course books that we decided on for read alouds (not heard of read aloud tea times? Check out my post HERE).
Supporting your kiddos in their interests can be as simple as showing them that the Minecraft book they've been eyeing off is a valuable investment for your bookshelf. Or it might look like researching books together and trying a few out at the local library and then investing in a few favourites to have all the time at home.
My favourite places for books:
Apart from your local second hand shops, ebay and church book sales, you might like to check out the following fave places of mine:
Little Pages Book Nook - is a second hand FB run page that my friend Toni set up. Having homeschooled her own kiddos, Toni understands books that are rich in content and offers a HUGE range of books on almost anything subject you can think of! Find her HERE.
Living Book Press - again, another homeschooler, Anthony is the owner of this amazing business. I love how accessible Ant has made lots of books (that were once out of print) for us all! I've been so impressed by the books we have purchased from Living Book Press and I'm sure you will be too. Find LBP HERE.
Outschool - As well as adding to your bookshelf, why not consider enrolling your child in a book discussion group? Outschool is perfect for this! There are discussion groups for specific books like for the Dog Man Series fans HERE or you could even join a class that discusses classical books. The best thing about Outschool is that it is a vetted, safe platform (and one that I am proud to partner* with and that my own kiddos are using and loving!)
Consider using a lending library while you are in the gathering stage. Wattle Gum Lending Library set up by my amazing friend Erin from Seven Little Australians and Counting is an incredible option for us Aussies! Erin has the most fabulous library and has opened it up to us all for a small fee. You get the books sent straight to you! How good is that?! Check it out HERE.
Bookfairs are often listed HERE if you are looking for a bit of a family adventure.
Happy library creating!
* Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which means I get a small compensation for sharing it with you, however I will only share with you resources that are actually helpful! Read my affiliate disclosure HERE.