The Importance of Building a Home Library

The Importance of Building a Home Library

The inscription over the door of the Library at Thebes reads: “Medicine for the soul.” Yes, exactly. Books are indeed medicine for the soul!

I am very passionate about books and reading. Ever since I learned to read (and even before), my bedside table has been filled with books. I am also very passionate about in my belief that every home can and should have a library. It is possible as this article will show.



Just think how much the world would change for the better if every home had a library!


I grew up in a home filled with books. My older siblings and I all had a book shelf in our bedrooms in addition to the family bookshelves in the house that contained the family reference books as well as general reading material for adults.


I grew up in a family of readers and my siblings and I are all still voracious readers. I now work in an academic library. As you can see, I was not in jest when I said that I am very ardent about books and reading.


Studies have shown that when children grow up in homes filled with books and parents who model good reading habits, the children naturally become readers. Moreover, readers are naturally life-long learners and always have a curiosity and thirst for knowledge.


I firmly believe, especially in these times, that literacy and education are becoming more important than ever! It is becoming evident that our society is losing a certain level of literacy in these times. There are many theories as to why this is happening. However, the important thing is that we must take steps to make certain that our families attain proper literacy and education. Whether our children are privately educated, go to public school or are home schooled, literacy begins in the home.


It is important that we take the time, thought, care, and finances available to build up our own home libraries. I am not suggesting that we stop using our local public libraries by any means. What I am suggesting is that we provide as many books as possible at all times to our families. As I said earlier, I grew up in a home filled with books but my Mother still took me to the public library regularly throughout my entire childhood.


When we have our own home library, we build a family culture of reading. We build memories. We develop personal and family classics. We hear small children ask us to read such and such story to them again and again and again—even though they have heard it a million times. In young children, repetition is the first step in learning to read. Young children crave repetition in all things and thrive on routine. They love knowing where to go on a certain book shelf to retrieve their favorite books.


When we have our own home library, we are always prepared to look up that word that we don’t know the meaning of and to teach our children how to do the same. In doing so, we teach them self-sufficiency. As they grow and develop into more advanced readers, they will be able to go to the reference section in the home library and use the dictionary themselves.


As children grow as readers, they also grow as writers. This is all part of literacy. Having excellent dictionaries and thesauri in the home for various age groups are very important in aiding in the development of literacy.


Having a family library has been instrumental in bonding and strengthening many families throughout the ages. This is especially important in these times in which we live when we are so bombarded by noise and bright lights of all the technological gadgets that are in our homes. Why not turn off all computers, mobile devices and TVs a few evenings a week and gather together for read aloud time? Let books and stories become part of your family’s memories and culture.


Let books inspire your children! Teach your children how they can be comforted by the words in a favorite book that is always there for them just sitting on a bookshelf.


You can always add to your library and therefore you are always prepared. You are investing in the future and education of your entire family for generations, if you wish. I have some of my Grandma’s beloved books. As you build your library, think of the future. Books never go out of style—especially the great classics. 


Where should you buy books so that you do not break the bank?


First of all, know that it will take you years to build up your home library. Start where you are now. Perhaps you already have the beginnings of a home library but you don’t realize it. Take a look at all the books in your home and you may be surprised at how many you have accumulated.


There are several means by which you can acquire books that will be well within your budget. Take your time and enjoy your ongoing quest for books to build your home library.  


I recommend keeping a notebook in your purse where you keep titles and subject areas that you are on the look for. Also, when you go browsing at places like Barnes and Noble, you can jot down ideas for books that you may want to purchase if you do not have the funds in your budget at that time.


Here is list of budget friendly places to check for books:


Physical Places:


• Used Book Stores

• Library Book Sales

• Garage Sales


Online Places:


• Ebay

o A word about Ebay: I have found many out of print books incredibly cheap on eBay! It is one of my go-to places to shop for books. I have certain eBay bookstores marked as favorites.

• Amazon

o A word about Amazon: I find that their prices for new pre-publication books are pretty reasonable for hardbacks. I also really like the Marketplace where I can find used copies of books very cheaply.


What about shelf space?


“Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house.” -Henry Ward Beecher

Over time you may find that you run out of space for your books. You may add more shelves or store books in every nook and cranny possible in your home and still run out of room. What to do?


Well, here in the library, we do something called “weeding.” It’s a painful process at times but it is also necessary. Weeding is simply going through your books and getting rid of what you no longer need or want to make room for more books. I do this about once a year with my book shelves in my home. It is painful but necessary. I find that through the year, I may end up buying books or being given books that I really don’t need to keep forever and those are the ones that get donated.


Another option is to add to your home library though a Kindle or other eReader. Many classic books are free or cheap so you can literally add hundreds of books to your home library and not take up any shelf space.


Your family can still enjoy all the books but just in a different manner. You can keep a nice notebook on your bookshelf with an alphabetical list of all the books you own on Kindle so, in a way, they will still be a part of the actual physical library.


“How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.” -Henry David Thoreau



Taking into consideration the needs of your family when building your home library, consider adding the following types of books to your collection:




• Board booksCourtney reading books

• Bath books


Toddlers and Young Children:


• Picture books with text

• Wordless Picture books

• Poetry


Children of Reading Age:


Whether our children are privately educated, go to public school or are home schooled, literacy begins in the home.


• Chapter Books

• Classics

• World folktales

• Fairy Tales

• Modern Classics

• Series Books

• Children’s Poetry

• Children’s Dictionary

• Children’s Thesaurus

• Children’s Atlas

• Children’s Encyclopedia

• Faith Building Books



Older Children and Teenagers:


• Inspirational Personal Growth Books (Chicken Soup for the Soul etc.)

• Classics

• Modern Classics

• Series Books





• Dictionary

• Thesaurus

• Road Atlas

• World Atlas

• Encyclopedia

• Old National Geographic Magazines

• Almanac

• Farmer’s Almanac

• Bible

• Shakespeare

• Religious Reference Books

• Classic Books

• Poetry Collections

• How-To Books

• Medical Books

• Family Favorites and Personal Classics

• Other reference books for personal interests of family members

• Any book that you feel belongs in your family’s home library



I hope that now that you have read all about the benefits of a home library and how fun and easy it is to build your own that you will not ask why one should have a home library but rather why one wouldn’t have a home library!


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I work in a library which suits me just fine, for I adore books and reading. I cherish my nieces and nephews. I admire beautiful clothing from bygone eras. I find comfort in a proper cup of tea. I delight in snowflakes, stardust and pressed flowers. In this beautiful fragmented world, I hold fast to hope.


  1. Cathy says:

    Excellent article, Liz! You hit all the important points! One of my treasured classic books was picked up by Mom at a garage sale. I was a fourth grader trying to read Gone with the Wind! I did it and still have that copy (that I read again as a teenager, too). It’s sitting on Emma’s night table now…

    • Elizabeth Laumas says:

      Thank you!

      I remember that well worn copy of Gone With the Wind. I love how that very copy now sits on your daughter’s night stand….it just warms my heart.

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