Introduce your children to lovely, living books by gathering a basket full of twaddle-free books for them to read and delight in during the lazy summer afternoon hours!
The first time I encountered the idea of a children’s book basket was at a friend’s house. She kept a lovely little basket near her fireplace stacked with all the library books her 3 boys brought home each week. I loved the concept, and over the years, I recreated many variations of this book basket. For example:
Library Box or Bag –
We would take a box or bag to the library, and once it was full, we would check out. At home the library books were required to stay in the box or bag so they were not easily lost. To return the books to the library, I would simply grab the bag or box and take it back to the library and fill it up again. This continues to be the way we manage our library books!
Board Book Basket –
As we collected more board books for the babies, I put them in a basket and kept them in a place where the little ones had easy access to them – especially during school hours. Sometimes they “read” them, sometimes they stacked them to make houses for their toys to play in. I figured even if the books weren’t being read, they were being enjoyed. Sometimes that is the first step to building strong readers!
Nature Bag –
The Charlotte Mason inspired nature study bag (shown below) became a place to keep nature-related materials and supplies for easy access. From field guides to favorite nature books, this bag holds a special place in our homeschool room.
Learn How to Make a Nature Study Bag >>
Recently, I decided I wanted to take the book basket concept further and create what I call the Afternoon Book Basket. The idea was sparked by the delivery of my PreK Sonlight books. The little girls and I had been enjoying afternoons cuddled up on my bed reading our Sonlight books, and I wanted an easy way to organize the books in my bedroom. From there, inspiration washed over me and I decided EVERYONE needed an Afternoon Book Basket.
Let me take you along for a step-by-step explanation of how to recreate this concept in your own home…
Step 1 – Decide your WHY.
Consider WHY you want to create a book basket for your children. That will determine every other decision you make about this basket. For instance, I realized it would be greatly beneficial to my children (and myself!) if there was an easily accessible book basket for them to grab from during the afternoon hours – especially in the summer when the heat keeps them from playing outside in the middle of the day. We have movie time at 4pm, but they will often complain about being bored prior to the 4pm movie time (in the hopes I will let them watch movies earlier). I wanted to be able to point them toward the Afternoon Book Basket
Additionally, as I mentioned earlier, I wanted a place for my little girls’ Sonlight books. I didn’t want to have search for the books and I wanted them to look neat and tidy in my bedroom where we do preschool.
You may have a why that sounds similar to mine or you may have other motives. Perhaps you are wanting to encourage your children to supplement their history lessons with living books. Maybe you want to implement a Rest Time in your home, and are looking for a way to keep the hands and minds of little ones who don’t nap anymore busy during Rest Time. Perhaps you are new to the idea of living books and you want to remind yourself to introduce your children to living books on a daily basis.
Whatever the reason, jot it down to remind you of WHY you are doing this as you go through the next few steps. It will help to keep you focused and help you find the best answers to the other questions that will crop up as you put together your own basket.
Step 2 – Decide your WHO
I knew I wanted several of these Afternoon Book Baskets for different groupings of my children. My little girls would have their Sonlight books, I wanted my little boys to have easy access to some great age-appropriate books, and I wanted to have a basket that was available to all ages and genders in a central location. However, I knew I did NOT need an Afternoon Book Basket for my older daughters because they already had a collection of books in a bookshelf in their reading nook.
Knowing WHO would be reading the books, gave me a better idea of how many baskets I needed and also where I would be putting them.
Step 3 – Decide your WHAT
I wanted a place to rotate out good books from our own family library that weren’t getting read. I also wanted a place to put books that corresponded nicely with current lessons we are learning. Additionally, I wanted a neat way to organize the children’s own current chosen reading materials.
I also knew I wanted baskets that were sturdy and easy to stack books in, so rectangular or square and fairly tall baskets were a must. I also wanted them to look nice and correspond with the decor of our home.
When considering the WHAT of your Afternoon Book Basket, you want to think about functionality, personal and homeschool goals, as well as how you’d like your children to interact with the book basket.
Here are a few ideas for baskets that would work well as Afternoon Book Baskets…
Step 4 – Decide your WHERE
With all of the previous questions answered, you probably have a good idea of WHERE you need to place your book baskets. Here’s my list:
- Boy books in boys’ bedroom
- Sonlight books in my bedroom
- Board books in the living room
- Library books in the living room
- Current read-alouds and school books in dining room
Start out with 2-3 Afternoon Book Baskets and just keep moving them around until they “feel” right. In fact, try changing up where you put them on a monthly or quarterly basis just to keep things interesting and enticing!
Step 5 – Encourage your readers!
The beauty of the Afternoon Book Basket is that you need only to nonchalantly introduce your children to the books in the basket and how you’d like them to use it and then sit back and watch them enjoy it!
My 4 year old will often ask to go upstairs to my room and sit on my bed to “read” her Sonlight books! She knows they are in the basket beside the bed and she knows she is welcome to them.
I’ve taken the stance that books are meant to be handled and read. Yes, we should treat them kindly, BUT if a book is well-loved and becomes well-worn, I am willing to replace it. I’ve had 10 kids go through many of the books in our home and I’ve raised a bunch of kids who LOVE to read. It’s a small price to pay to open up the doors learning to read offers!
So, encourage your kids to read the books in the basket, and encourage them to put them away when they are finished for the afternoon. It keeps them tidy and easy to find! But, don’t stress over the books getting used – it’s what they are there for!
If you are interested in Sonlight,
go to their website
and request a FREE TRIAL!