A Child Bookshelf: A Treasury Of Tales

by : Misti Norusis

One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is a love for reading. When a child discovers the world of books, he has the tools to learn much more than letters. He can now find, in the pages, doorways to other places and other lives. He can be a king conquering a dragon. A spy saving the world. A boy magician, a bandit, an island castaway, a sheriff. He can be anything, and all he has to do is to take a book, and let his imagination take flight.

But before he develops a love for books, he must have easy access to books. Parents can read him a bedtime story, and teachers may explain the fundamentals of reading, but what will he do if there are no parents or teachers around? Left on his own, he will reach for what is nearest and easiest, and unfortunately, that is often the television.

Building his book collection

Parents must invest in children’s books that are age appropriate and related to the child’s interests. For example, if he likes cars, he will love reading books about them. Even if he showed no interest in the fairytales or counting books, mark our words: he will be drawn immediately to stories like Thomas the Tank Engine, and not feel that it is a “chore". Also invite him to personally choose a book at the library or bookstore. You can make it a ritual or a treat, something he can look forward to every month: “today I get to read a new book!"

Choosing a child bookshelf

As he builds his book collection, let him store it in his own special child bookshelf. Why do you need a child bookshelf instead of letting him share the one you already have? First, out of practicality, he can’t reach the higher shelves, and if he tries to, he could seriously hurt himself and send rows of your own books falling to the floor. You wouldn’t want that to happen—especially since, long after the injury has healed, he may be too traumatized to pick up a book on his own again.

Giving your child his own child bookshelf also encourages him to take care of his books. By showing him that books are special, because the stories in them are magical and deserve some kind of care and respect, you send the message that reading (and owning a book) is a wonderful grown-up privilege. You know how children think—they want to feel important, and treated like an adult. So make reading a “serious" business: “This is a very special book, and we’ll give you a very special child bookshelf to put it in."

Storing books in a child bookshelf also make it very convenient for a child to get a book when he’s bored. The desire to read may hit him at the oddest and most inconvenient times, like when you’re preparing dinner, or in the middle of doing the laundry. If his books are kept in a child bookshelf, he can take them out and return them with minimum fuss. He’ll also like the freedom to choose from his collection, which he can browse through freely. Children like having choices and a child bookshelf provides them with that opportunity.