Being a master of language means being able to use words. You can read them, enjoy them, and organize them to express yourself. Day 9 of our 10 Days series zeroes in on providing your wordsmiths the tools they need to be masters of words. Actually, they may not realize that they need these resources, but it is your job to convince them.
Do you have a pleasure reading library and a homeschool library? I did for many years. There were “school” books that we kept in the homeschool area and Sprite’s fun books that she kept in her room. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, except that my distinction between school and fun books was very arbitrary. From a language arts perspective, Sprite can benefit just as much from her fun books as from the books that I considered “curriculum.” So when thinking of building a library, don’t think just in terms of the “homeschool” books but in terms of your entire family collection.
Language Reference Tools
I can’t imagine teaching children at home without these three essential language reference books:
- writer’s handbook that covers grammar, mechanics, and usage
I also recommend these extras for the fun factor:
- rhyming dictionary
- idiom dictionary or encyclopedia
Because we use lapbooking and notebooking, we also create our own reference aids which we store next to the dictionary and thesaurus on the homeschool table. Sprite has made minibooks, card files, and booklets with different language topics from parts of speech to poetic devices.
Books of All Kinds
Besides reference books, your homeschool library should be rich in reading material of all types:
- picture books
- non-fiction (field guides, DIY guides, science, art, music and history books)
- wordless books
Even periodicals such as magazines and newspapers have their place.
Experience with language in many contexts is what brings mastery, so create an environment where books are varied and abundant.
Books are expensive, but if they are a priority, we will find the money to buy them. Besides, there are plenty of free and low cost options — libraries, thrift stores, yard sales, used book sales, etc. When your philosophy is to provide a rich variety of living books, you have so many options to choose from. For example, when I visit my favorite dirt cheap thrift store, I consider books of all kinds — paperbacks, hardbacks, picture books, young adult books, adult books, craft tutorials, reference books, novels, encyclopedias, classics, etc. As long as the book is a living book and not twaddle, it is a possibility for our home library.
Language acquisition comes from many different sources, not just classic literature and young adult novels. So consider all the options as you build your home library.