Books in your home… where to start?


It was a big day in our household. Our daughter (6) approached me with what she thought was a big request: “Mom, could we go to the bookstore and buy me a chapter book?” Inside, I was throwing a party. The most casual response I could give her was “Honey, I will never deny you hugs, vegetables, or books.” This is an oversimplification of my philosophy, but all the same, the benefits of having books in the home are innumerable. I would line our entire home with books if I could afford to do so. Even with using used books stores and websites, housing books can be tricky. Libraries and book exchanges are invaluable ways to bring the joys of reading into the home. Unfortunately, they have to go back to their owners. How do we prioritize what we have around the house for those priceless moments when our kids are moved to read?

I used to sneak into my mom’s History of Art book as often as I could. Why I thought I had to sneak, I have no idea. The book was on the shelves available to me. I now see that is the point. Children who are read to have developmental advantages. To take it a step further, children who have ready access to books are free to explore their curiosity on a whim.  I can’t wait until our daughter is older so she can tell me which of my books she used to study when I wasn’t looking.

Upon entering a book store or library you can be confronted with thousands of children’s books. Even if you can wade through them before nap time, you have to prioritize based on budget. Where do you begin? There are always your own childhood favorites. Who does not know Goodnight Moon? Returning to your favorite books is a great way to bond with your child. Maybe you want something additional for your children. Maybe you have something you want to instill in them as very young children. Books are the perfect way to shape their early ideas about the world around them.

The American Library Association, among other things, awards honors to distinguished Children’s books in several categories. For instance, if you are interested in introducing your child to stories from other cultures, you may consider books honored with the Mildred L. Batchelder Award or the Pura Belpre Award. Want to get your child to get a healthy dose of social awareness? The Amelia Bloomer Book list has some age level recommendations to reinforce the lessons you are already teaching your child in the home.

The Caldecott Medal is awarded to illustrators who shared their fine artistic talents to exceptional books for young children. This category of books is one well worth the time to explore!

The John Newbery Award recognizes the author of the “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” While your toddler may not be as interested in books of this category, your growing child may benefit greatly from the solid writing, stories, and lessons found in books of this caliber.

None of this is to say that these awards are an exhaustive list of books worthy of your money and your children’s attention. I would argue that anything that brings your child’s imagination into life is worthy of an award. What these award lists can be are great starting places for the discerning parent to begin to expose our children to the beauty of the literary world. Had it not been for that copy of The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, placed on a shelf in my childhood home, who knows where I would be now. Check out all these lists and more at:

I rest better at night not only knowing that great books are out there, but that within each one in our home, our daughter might learn more about herself and the world around her. What are some of the books that you think everyone should own?




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