Remember you can build a library slowly. Don't rush out and buy everything. Look for sales and become a frequent shopper at used book stores and thrift stores. I have picked up many classic books for 25 cents. My favorite place to get books is at public library sales. The libraries often toss out older, more conservative books to make way for modern silliness. That's great for us! We can pick up expensive classic books for a song.
Here are the kinds of books that you should purchase with examples of quality reading material in each category.
Picture Books for Young Children and Early Readers
Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman was my husband's favorite book as a child. It's on our shelves too and my children enjoy it just as much as he did back in the sixties. A picture book purchase should be based on the story and the illustrations. There are picture books in our library that are practically works of art. There is a list of our family's favorite picture books on our website, Joyful and Successful Homeschooling.
Picture Books for Older Children
These books are wonderful for read aloud in unit studies. Do you know that no one is too old to read a well-written, beautifully illustrated picture book? But there are actually picture books written for older children that our family uses for unit studies. The Library of Alexandria by Kelly Trumble is a lovely book about the largest library of the ancient world. The oldest living story, Gilgamesh, is available as a picture book, Gilgamesh, the Hero by Geraldine McCaughrean, that our family has been delighted to listen to as mom reads aloud.
Classic Literature for Children
Classic Literature for Pre-Teens, Teens, & Adults
Once a pre-teen reaches a certain reading level, he/she will enjoy the same literature you and your husband read, provided he/she has similar taste in reading material. Many homeschool moms have never read the classics, but it's not too late to pick up a book and read it. My friend, Laura, took a couple of years and read classic books along with her teens--her love for reading grew along with her enjoyment of homeschooling! The above lists will provide you endless choices for teens and adults. There are also websites where you can download classics for free and store them on your computer. You can print them or read them on a PDA. Project Gutenberg is my favorite of these sites, but simply Google the name of the book you are looking for with the word free. I use these sites all the time! Dover Publications is another great place to pick up inexpensive copies of classic literature. I have bought all of my Shakespeare, as well as many other classics and books of poetry from this company. This is not a Christian company, so be careful what you purchase.
Christian Literature for Pre-Teens, Teens, & Adults
There are many good Christian novelists out there right now. Our family's favorites are Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti. We collect all of their books, rereading them over and over. Both are amazing story tellers who write from a conservative Christian worldview, though there is some "Christian feminism." Great Christian Books has a large selection of Christian fiction with some great sales. Here is a website that reviews Christian fiction, Christian Fiction Review. Here is a review of Nightmare Academy by Frank Peretti.
This is one of my favorite teaching tools. I always assign historical fiction books in history and Bible classes to help make the time period we are studying come alive. Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates and The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare are both award winning historical novels for children. My family loves these books and many others. The American Girls series, The Royal Diary series, and The Christian Heritage series are set in various time periods and places, appealing to younger children. Older children often prefer classic literature such as Tom Sawyer, The Scarlet Letter, or Sherlock Holmes. I just keep my eyes open for used book bargains and book sales, picking up historical fiction as I find it.
Oh, no, we're just can't cover all the books in one article. So, we'll finish talking about library building next time. Until then, keep your eyes on Jesus and read His Word. Let him lead you in your search for good books to line your shelves!
Happy Library Building!
Merey (Meredith LUdwig Curtis)