There it is. The Enchanted Bookshelf. It looks pretty ordinary, doesn’t it? And believe me, it is not usually that tidy. Despite its modest appearance, this humble bookshelf has been key in inspiring my 7 year-old son to read.
The bookcase is right next to his bed, within arm’s reach. He doesn’t even have to get out of bed to pull a book off the shelf. I keep it well-stocked with a varied supply of books of different degrees of difficulty.
Obviously I make sure that there are many books at his reading level. I also throw in some that are more difficult in order to pique his interest and tempt him to challenge himself. I add a few that are below his level for those days when he wants to breeze through an old favorite. I’d rather have him read something a little easy on occasion, than read nothing at all. On the bottom shelf I put a few big, heavy kids’ encyclopedias and books with lots of photographs that are fun and interesting to leaf through.
The shelf’s spell has brought my son’s reading level from barely Bob Books last fall to beyond the Magic Tree House Series (by Mary Pope Osborne) in just one year. In fact he recently devoured Vacation Under the Volcano non-stop and proudly announced that he has now read all 28 books in the original Magic Treehouse Series. For the last few nights, he has read The Children of Noisy Village (by Astrid Lindgren). Now he appears to have moved on to Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking, which is one of the more challenging temptations on the shelf.
If you want to give this a try, here are some tips:
- Shelf must be within arm’s reach of bed and preferably facing the bed so the titles are easily visible.
- Keep it well-stocked.
- Vary the reading level. Most books should be at your child’s current level, plus some more difficult books, and some easier books.
- A basket of children’s magazines on the top is a nice touch and adds even more variety to the reading selections.
- Don’t let the shelf stagnate. Keep restocking with new books as your child’s skills improve.
- If there is a TV in your child’s room, get rid of it so reading is the ONLY available activity in bed! (Plus, the electromagnetic waves from the TV will suck all the magical energy out of the Enchanted Shelf. :-) )