The Enchanted Bookshelf

By , September 30, 2009 6:55 pm

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.  :-)  )
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10 Responses to “The Enchanted Bookshelf”

  1. Robin Gaphni says:

    Great post. Kids take great pride in their bookshelves and building their own private library. My daughter (who is now 16) has an overflowing one in her room, and it has everything from picture books to adult fiction.
    .-= Robin Gaphni´s last blog ..Woolbur, A Free-Spirited Sheep =-.

  2. maryanne says:

    I have a bookshelf like this in my kids’ room, and it is enchanted too. My kids are only 3.5 and 21 months, but they both spend a good hour “reading” their books every day!
    .-= maryanne´s last blog ..Pay it forward =-.

  3. An excellent post for Read a Banned Book Week! Happy Reading.
    .-= Mom and Kiddo´s last blog ..Montessori Triangles =-.

  4. Meg says:

    Great post! As you know, we are not unplugged, but I do draw the line at TVs in bedrooms. Wish our bookshelf looked that good! We’re kind of a mess…

    Funny that you put out the Magic Treehouse books…I looked them up on Amazon, and was a little disappointed to find out that their premise is a bit like a book I’m writing for my daughter! (Not TOO close, just enough to irk me.) My goal is to self-publish it by Christmas, and was wondering if you might consider doing a “fun” review on your blog. I’d send you a free copy, and you could write whatever you felt about it…I’m not getting too serious about marketing, because I know the potential for selling the book is pretty low, and I have a full time job already! :) Let me know what you think…no problem if that type of post is not up your alley.

  5. Chrissi says:

    We discovered early this year when we put 3 milk crates full of books by our (then) 6 year old son’s bed that he was staying up late and reading after bedtime! It’s hard to mind a child staying up late to read, but sleep is important, too, so our little guy began asking to go to bed earlier so he could have time just for reading before going to sleep. :o Who is this child who was begging for a bedroom tv for his birthday just this summer?! :o (Which his grandparents bought. for. him. Grr! >:() The bedroom tv is now only used for movies with friends/cousins during sleepovers on weekends occasionally. ;)

    We stacked the milk crates on the bench seat on the long wall of his room that his bed butts up against and it made a nice little shelf to hold books and all the stuffed animals he must have at bedtime that he can’t make his bed around in the morning. ;) It’s rarely tidy, but always well-loved! I try not to let the mess of books get to me, but this was a timely reminder that it’s time to clear it out and add some new selections like The Magic Treehouse and Ghostville Elementary Series. =D Thanks for the boost!
    .-= Chrissi´s last blog ..It’s ‘Back-to-School Physical’ Day! – Project 365: Day 16 (Wed. Sept, 30, 2009) =-.

  6. Mom Unplugged says:

    I can remember still re-reading my favorite picture books and earlier chapter books as a teen too. In fact, I kept all my favorites and now my children read them. Thanks for your comment Robin!

  7. Mom Unplugged says:

    That is wonderful! My kids were always active “readers” when younger too. My son especially used to amaze me with his attention span while leafing through one book after another before the age of 2. I think that is a great sign that your children will be avid readers later too. Thanks so much for your comment!

  8. Mom Unplugged says:

    Oooo!!! I forgot! I had heard it was “Read a Banned Book Week” and I was planning a post about it but I totally forgot. I know it ends October 3rd, so perhaps I can still squeeze one in. Thanks for the reminder!

  9. Mom Unplugged says:

    Sure, I’d love to review your book! I am so impressed that you have a full time job AND are writing a book too. I am currently a SAHM with all three in school but I never seem to have “time” to work on any of the three books that I have great ideas for. Oh well. Once a procrastinator, always a procrastinator. Please let me know when your book is out (you can email me at the address on my “Interview With Myself” page), also – I would gratefully accept any advice on how to get myself to sit down and write! Congratulations!

  10. Mom Unplugged says:

    The staying up late thing is certainly a possible side effect of the bedside library but I love that your son wants to go to bed early just to read! That is wonderful!

    It sounds like you made a great set-up. As for ours, I took that photo just after tidying the bookshelf. My children’s bookshelves are usually FAR more messy than that! I’ll have to put a “real-life” picture on there sometime.

    Thanks for your comment Chrissi!

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