creating a literacy rich home– part 2: how to build your child’s home library + 15 must-own books

creating a literacy rich home -- a 10 part series // bring-joy.com #kids #literacy #reading

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As part of our “Creating a Literacy Rich Home” series, today we’re going to talk about how to build a home library on a budget. 

I believe in books. I believe you should spend money on books.

I also love the library. I love buying second-hand books.

But I believe in supporting publishers, writers, & illustrators.

More than that, I believe in showing our kids that books are important by buying new, nice books. This shows them (& ourselves) that we value books in our life.

Think of how much money most of us spend on other forms of entertainment (movies, video games, music).

If you want to have a literacy rich home, books should always be a part of any family’s entertainment budget. 

It takes time & money to build a home library, but taking the time to build a carefully curated selection of excellent & worthwhile children’s books is something your kids will thank you for now, & will have a lasting impact on them for their entire life.

Our home library consists of a mixture of new books, used books, & an ever rotating selection of library books (which I view as a supplement to our home library).

how-to-build-your-child's-library-on-a-budget

If you can get books at the library, why is it important to own your own books? 

There are a number of reasons, but most important, in my mind, is there are just some books that you want your kids to grow up with. You want them to read it when they’re three, five, and then seven.

If you own it, they can read it now, & then five months from now, without having to worry to check it out from the library.

I’ve found the best selection & prices on quality books are from three places: Costco, Amazon, and Usborne books (more on Usborne in next week’s post).

I like buying boxed sets, because often you get a better deal and a whole series of great books.

We have many, many used books–a combo of hand-me-downs from my parents, some from Goodwill, and most from library book sales (ask your library when they hold theirs–you can often get great children books for less than $1).

Here are 15 children’s books you need to have in your library. 

15 books you should own for your child's library //  bring-joy.com #literacy #kids #reading

Tales of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter
We have this complete boxed collection, & I really like it. Every child needs to grow up knowing about Peter & his friends.

Jamberry, by Bruce Deegan
All of my older kids had this book memorized by the time they were three. We also have the board book.

No David!, by David Shannon
I don’t know what it is about this book, but this has been a hit with my 2-3 year olds. It’s the kind of book parents hate (the illustrations are ugly & the main character is naughty), but all of my kids went through period were they wanted to read this several times a day. David Shannon also has many other No David! themed books.

What Do People Do All Day?by Richard Scarry
I think all Richard Scarry’s books are worth owning. The illustrations are interesting & colorful & their stories always teach a principle, or something useful about the world. This book introduces kids to all sorts of occupations.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. & Eric Carle
A great introduction to rhyme & rhythm, which is an important pre-literacy skill.

Corduroy, by Don Freeman
Lovely story, lovely pictures.

The Napping House, by Audrey Wood
The perfect before-bed book.

Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown
Poetic & simple. A good one for kids to read as a part of a bedtime ritual.

A Kiss for Little Bear, by Else Holmelund Minarik
Maurice Sendak illustrates this classic.

Are You My Mother?by P.D. Eastman
There have been several knockoffs of this idea (baby animal cannot find it’s mama), but this is hands down the best version. My three year old can “read” this book to me, I’ve read it so many times to her.

Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb, by Al Perkins
Teaches how fun word play & rhythm can be.

Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak
Classic. Love his illustrations. Love the simple typography. Ignites the imagination.

The Little Engine That Could , by Watty Piper
Lots of renditions of this classic, but this version has my favorite illustrations.

Frog & Toad series, by Arnold Lobel
Any & all of these books are worth owning. Most younger kids won’t get the subtle & often ironic humor (even a lot of older kids might not get it either), but it demonstrates humor & irony in an interesting way.

Blueberries for Sal, by Robert M. McCloskey
I’ve always loved Maine because of this book. (And I’m partial to the name Sal.)

//

Other posts in this series:

Part 1: 10 reasons to teach the love of reading
Part 3: Why you need to read to your baby + 10 fave baby books
Part 4: Tips for reading with toddlers + 15 best books for toddler 

Where do you buy your books? 
Do you have any titles to add to the list? 


Comments


  1. Pingback: creating a literacy rich home--part 3: reading to babies when to start? + 10 baby book essentials | bring joy

  2. Pingback: best books for toddlers 2-3

  3. Gretchen
    on June 12, 2014 at 8:27 am said:

    I completely agree about teaching your child to love reading!
    I’ve been reading to my daughter since she was born. In fact I would read outloud whatever book I was reading while nursing her. Now at just over 2 she LOVES her books. I find myself buying her books vs toys because she gets “more” from them.
    We have many of your books listed but I can’t wait to check out the others!
    One “fun” way to expand your library is to suggest that people give your child their favorite book as birthday presents. It will ramp that library right up!

  4. Liz
    on June 12, 2014 at 7:03 am said:

    LOVE to read! My oldest ALWAYS has her head in a book. A week ago, she proudly announced that she has 335 books!

    I wanted to add “Silly Sally” by Audrey Wood to your list – it was a favorite of all 3 of my children and it led us to the Napping House!

    If you create a list for the pre teens I would add “The Hundred Dresses” by Eleanor Estes. “The Penderwicks” by Jeanne Birdsall.

  5. L
    on June 11, 2014 at 8:28 pm said:

    Interesting post! I’ve found that we have to be very selective about buying books mostly because of space (we have many books). We usually get books from the library first and then if it really connects with one of us it becomes real… I mean a book we need to own (sorry the Velveteen Rabbit is on my mind). I’ll also buy longer “classics” so we don’t need to return them so quickly. We buy from Amazon and our beloved used book store.

    We often take out the same book out over and over from the library. My kids will remember a book that we borrowed awhile ago and request it. I really feel like all the wonderful books in the library are OUR books (shared of course) and we just don’t have the space to keep them onsite so the lovely folks at the library take them on. Our library website allows us to track our history so we can easily look back at all the books we’ve borrowed through the years.

    Once my daughter started reading on her own, she starting finishing chapter books in one sitting so again, not wise to buy and spend $30 a week to feed the reading hunger.

    We also read aloud and as another person commented, I’d highly recommend “The Read Aloud Handbook.” Check out his website and “Erin’s List” of books: http://www.trelease-on-reading.com/erinlist.html

    I love all the recommendations here and just wanted to add a lesser known series—the Alfie and Annie Rose books by Shirley Hughes. We recently discovered them and I as an adult LOVE them and so do my 4 and 7 year old. But, oh my, if you have a toddler or a preschooler, I BEG you to check these books out.

  6. L
    on June 11, 2014 at 8:25 pm said:

    Interesting post! I’ve found that we have to be very selective about buying new books mostly because of space (we have many many books). We usually get books from the library first and then if it really connects with one of us it becomes real… I mean a book we need to own (sorry the Velveteen Rabbit is on my mind). I’ll also buy longer “classics” so we don’t need to return them so quickly. We buy from Amazon and our beloved used book store.
    We often take out the same book out over and over from the library. My kids will remember a book that we borrowed awhile ago and request it. I really feel like all the wonderful books in the library are OUR books (shared of course) and we just don’t have the space to keep them on sight so the lovely folks at the library take care of them. Our library website allows us to track our history so we can easily look back at all the books we’ve borrowed threw the years.
    Once my daughter started reading on her own, she starting finishing chapter books in one sitting so again, not wise to buy and spend $30 a week to feed the reading hunger.
    We also read aloud and as another person commented, I’d highly recommend “The Read Aloud Handbook.” Check out his website and “Erin’s List” of books: http://www.trelease-on-reading.com/erinlist.html
    I love all the recommendations here and just wanted to add a lesser known series—the Alfie and Annie Rose books by Shirley Hughes. We recently discovered them and I as an adult LOVE them and so do my 4 and 7 year old. But oh my, if you have a toddler or a preschooler, I BEG you to check these books out.

    • L
      on June 11, 2014 at 8:30 pm said:

      Sorry for the double comment! I get too excited over books.

  7. Shannon
    on June 10, 2014 at 4:08 pm said:

    We buy books every 2 weeks at BN, and we spend about 60 twice a year at the scholastic book fair. I love having books. I was sad to give away a bunch (ok more than a bunch) of their picture books. We kept favorites, and classics and donated the rest to a low income child care so those kids could have books to read and cherish.

    My girls are now 8 and 13 so we have been in chapter book territory for quite awhile. My 8 year old can read at a 5th grade reading level and I know it’s because books have been a part of her day to day life since before she was born. Yes I was that mom that read picture books to her unborn baby. 🙂

    We read all the time and when ever we are going somewhere my girls and I grab a book. If we are almost done with that book we grab 2. Don’t want to be left somewhere waiting with out something to read. My husband is always teasing us about our bag of books.

    We use the library and overdrive (ebook library lending service). Books are so important.

  8. Katie
    on June 6, 2014 at 3:33 pm said:

    Fabulous post! I also recommend a varied genre. Non fiction such as Science or history and poetry! Love all your books. Some of our favorites not mentioned are, Miss Rumphius, Journey, Little Blue Truck, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Tikki Tikki Tembo, A Sick Day for Amos McGee, Madeline, Paddle to the Sea, Goodnight Gorilla and Flotsam. Journey and Flotsam are wordless picture books. Took a bit of getting used to. My kids love! I want to also recommend The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. Every parent should read! Fantastic! We frequent yard sales , estate sales and Half Price Books for the best deals. Thanks again!

  9. Laurie
    on May 23, 2014 at 10:14 am said:

    I buy books online, in bookstores, at Goodwill/thrift stores, in the Friends of the Library bookstores, at library book sales, at flea markets, in used book stores…anywhere books are found for sale, I will buy them! As a librarian you’d think I’d check out from the library exclusively, but I like to have books–my very own books–around me. When I was a kid I remember my mother telling me about going to one of my dad’s co-worker’s Christmas parties and realizing why the person’s house felt so odd: “They didn’t have ANY books or bookshelves,” she said. Me: “What?! What do you mean?” Mom: “They don’t read.” Me: “But, how can someone not read?!” Mom: “I don’t know. I couldn’t do it, but some people just don’t.”

    There are so many wonderful children’s books. I’m partial to books that anthropomorphize animals–maybe because I grew up reading the Richard Scarry books! Animals wearing clothes gets me every time. (And why do animals in the same book wear shirts and coats but no pants while others wear just pants but no shirts? What’s the reasoning?) I think the Poppleton books by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Mark Teague are adorable. And just yesterday a colleague and I were talking about how cute “The Three Little Javelinas” by Susan Lowell is.

    • Janae Wise
      on May 23, 2014 at 11:51 am said:

      Laurie,

      I loved your comment so much I posted it on the fb page!

      I’m with ya–animals that walk & talk like humans are so endearing. And good point about the clothing choices authors make for their animals. I have no idea the rhyme or reason.

      On that note, have you seen the movie, “Fantastic Mr. Fox”? I found it utterly delightful.

      • Laurie
        on May 23, 2014 at 2:20 pm said:

        Oh, fun! 😉
        And I’ll have to get “Fantastic Mr. Fox”: George Clooney’s voice + anthropomorphized animals = a sure winner!

        • Janae Wise
          on May 23, 2014 at 2:40 pm said:

          Yes, it’s delightfully witty & smart!

          (And Mr. Clooney does a fab job + I like Wes Anderson’s quirky style.)

  10. Alysa
    on May 22, 2014 at 10:39 pm said:

    Ooh, you make me want to do a post of my own like this, Janae! Great thoughts.

    I found that once word got out that I love books, people just started giving them to me! I mean, we’re all decluttering all the time, and one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I’ve gotten some really fun used books from friends’ castoffs and at yard sales.

    Personally though, I like buying new books from retailers that have physical bookstores, rather than Amazon. I mean, honestly. Can my kids walk into Amazon and play at their train table? Both my local bookshop and pretty much every Barnes and Noble I’ve been in have so much more to offer my kids than Amazon does. To me, it’s worth the extra couple bucks.

    • Janae Wise
      on May 22, 2014 at 11:06 pm said:

      Such a good point Alysa!! We do shop at Barnes & Noble (don’t know of any bookstores other than that around here) & I actually spend more money than I should there.

      I agree with you, but in Amazon’s defense, they sometimes carry harder to find prints, titles that you can’t find in a bookstore. And I’m not going to lie. I can afford to stock our library with more books when I shop at Amazon.

      Though, I want you to know girl, I’m with ya, 100%. The experience of being in a bookstore is worth money too.