A well-planned home library does not take over an entire room. Create an inviting, clutter-free library corner in your home, either in the playroom or study or even the children’s bedroom. Opt for freestanding bookshelves which can also act as a partition, separating the main area from the cozy corner chosen for the library. Low spaces under windows can also be used to arrange shelves for kids’ books so they can get to them easily.
To brighten up the room, add a colorful bedspread over a quilted mattress or over a rocking/arm chair and place it in your library corner. A reading lamp, strategically placed, creates an inviting ambience at night as well as aids in reading, especially when the kids are asleep.
Choose a corner that is naturally well lit during the day, but remember to keep the books away from direct sunlight as they will fade and eventually deteriorate. If there isn’t enough light, add incandescent lamps. Avoid using fluorescent lights as they can harm books.
Place the books horizontally or vertically with the titles outwards so you can find the one you want easily. To break the monotony, you can arrange figurines, photographs, etc in between stacks of books, much like you would with book ends. Keep the books with adult content on higher shelves, well out of the reach of curious children. Invest in a cordless dust-buster and some lint-free cloth to keep the books in mint condition.
Finally, for music lovers, keep a player mounted nearby with a selection of your favorite soft instrumental music, and voila, your room is ready for some soulful reading.
In our home, we have one room exclusively set aside for study as we homeschool our children. In it, we have a study table which doubles up as a bookcase. There is a coir mattress to curl on and read, flanked by soft toys. A computer table is our work-station and the gateway to the world for our kids. One drawer of a huge wardrobe serves as a library for our treasured Enid Blyton collection. We also have a variety of books, ranging from Readers Digest condensed editions to books on spirituality, all around the house, but these are hidden away in closets for want of space.
The reading habit is one that every child must get addicted to; parents should wean them away from deadly addictions to computer games or TV viewing. The skill of rapid reading will undoubtedly stand them in good stead when they have to understand textbook content in school and college. Knowledge through books is something you don’t get by passive TV watching as you have to exercise your imagination when you read. It improves vocabulary too since you see the word as you try to pronounce it. Your grammar and composition skills will improve by leaps and bounds as well. And playing Scrabble or doing the Crossword won’t be so tenuous a task anymore.
Give your children the best Christmas gift – the joy of meeting the ‘friends’ you had when you were their age. Introduce them to the ‘addiction’ of reading wholesome, soul-satisfying books and you will surely discover your childhood once again as you help them connect with theirs.