Kid Designed Home Library

Feb 15, 2013 by

Adult bookshelf

By Shara Lawrence-Weiss

The more I read and learn about literacy, the more I realize how much language and play tie in. Dr. Sally is always saying how “a language rich home produces good readers.” Over the years, many of the kids I’ve worked with, who were successful readers from early on, had parents who talked, answered their questions, allowed countless questions to be asked day in and day out, etc.

I believe that play ties heavily into this, also. Through play, kids learn so much…

As a member of the recovering perfectionists club it’s not always easy for me to let my kids play, without instructing them at all. I’ve gotten better and I continue to grow in this area, every week. Last night my kids got into trouble and in response my daughter said, “Fine! Hey, brother. Let’s play librarian and lock the door to parents. Only kids can come to the library today! Let’s go!”

My husband said, “Okay – who locked the door? Open it right now, please.” I pulled him aside and said, “I know we want to get them into more trouble right now for being naughty and sassy. But let’s just sit back on this one and let it roll, okay? Let’s see what they come up with. Maybe this will help them work through their anger and fighting and they’ll start to get along better.”

So we pulled back…

A while later my kids came out and said, “Okay. The library is open for parents now. You may come in.” They showed us around.

Here, they had pulled some of our Theology books from the bedroom bookshelf and lined them up. They called this the “Parent Shelf.” They asked us to check out a book.

They put puzzles out, a box car that they had made with dad earlier in the day (they called it their Bat Mobile) and some toys to play with. They told us that kids need toys – even in the library.

Adult bookshelf

Here is their Book Nook Chalkboard that I made back in 2010 (they can read and then color a picture to go along with the story). They told me that the apples are for the kids who come in – just in case they get hungry at the library. The books inside the Book Nook are for READING ONLY they informed us rather strictly – they are NOT for checking out.

Chalkboard (reading books only)

More books to check out…and more toys to play with.


They set up some additional books in this area and told us it was the official “kid checking out” spot.

Kid Books

Here’s my favorite part. They told me that the clothes were here because kids might come to the library who don’t have enough clothing at home. So they wanted to offer a section for free clothes, for the needy.

Clothing to donate

They took turns driving their Bat Mobile.

Box car J

Box car S

They put their library cards away, for the next visit. (Their cards were Valentine’s Day cards that they pretended were library cards.)

Library cards

My daughter looked over at me and said, “I know, mom. You want us to clean it up now. You don’t like messes.” I replied, “No baby. Let’s leave this one alone, okay? I like it just the way it is.”



  1. Even on days when kids are naughty, this is a wonderful reminder of how they listen, watch and model your behavior. You should be so proud of everything they thought of and how kind their hearts are – good job!

  2. Hi Leah: I was thinking about that, also, after writing this (you read my mind). “Modeled behavior…” I love free play but I also love structured play. Here’s a post on that from 2011: I think kids can learn a lot through structured play, also, such as the modeling of certain behaviors (social emotional skills, etc). How will they learn those things if no one shows or teaches them, right? Good point. Modeling + kids being left alone to act those things out during Free Play = Good. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Shara – I LOVE the creativity! The apples for “anyone that comes in”…perfect! Thank you for providing an environment so conducive to literacy…it doesn’t take expensive curriculum, toys, or even the latest in tech. It takes family relationships and time to encourage language in our little ones. TY!

    • Thanks, Darla. I always enjoy hearing from you. I agree with your statement; we have very few high tech things in our home but we have lots of talking, music, communicating and language!

  4. How absolutely wonderful! They thought of just about EVERYTHING. Good books, food and clothing…and don’t forget those toys! Social-emotional literacy skills along with literacy is an unbeatable combination. In the end, they even paid homage to the importance of relationships…letting you back in to be “part” of it all! The imagination is phenomenal! I want to visit that library! I’m glad it is still “open”, “up and running” and not disassembled!

    Wendy =)

  5. Guest

    “Kid Designed Home Library – Emergent Literacy | Emergent Literacy” certainly got me addicted with your web page!

    I will certainly be returning far more frequently. Thank you

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