Before Clara was born I knew that I wanted to read to her and that I wanted reading to be a big part of her childhood. My mum read to my sister and I when we were little and to this day I still love nothing more than losing myself in a good book. I can’t say that I have ever really thought about why I’d purchased particular books for myself. I bought them because I thought that they’d sounded interesting, but aside from that there were no other considerations. I certainly didn’t choose a book based on it’s content in relation to my life, who I am and what I value. For my daughter, though, I knew I wanted to choose appropriate books. Books that she would not only enjoy, but learn from. But how could I make sure that the books I was choosing were the right ones?
Enter my friend Sam from Addison Reads. I met Sam a couple of years ago (before baby) through a blogging group and I have been lucky enough to watch her succeed on all her blogging pursuits. Her current blog, Addison Reads, is a platform where she shares her love of literature and teaches parents how to choose appropriate books for their little ones. I love reading her blog, book reviews and keeping up to date with what her and her daughter Addison are doing, and so when Sam published all she knows in her book ‘The Intentional Bookshelf’ last year I knew I had to get it.
(At this point in the review I think it’s important for me to mention that this post is NOT sponsored. I bought Sam’s book myself and all views outlined below are my own.)
About The Book
Okay, so where do I even start? Sam’s book is so jam packed full of valuable information for parents who want to build a library that is unique to their child and their family that I could go on for days about it. But, I’m a busy mama and I know you are as well, so let’s not do that. Here’s what you absolutely need to know…
Sam describes an intentional bookshelf as one that parents can curate that will help you instil the values, morals and characteristics that you wish to develop in your child. But an intentional bookshelf is more than a teaching tool, it is also a hobby that the whole family can be involved in and enjoy. It aslo provides a space for your child in your home where they can escape from reality and hone their skills.
In addition to teaching parents what an intentional bookshelf is, Sam also teaches you exactly HOW to build your child’s library. She steps you through figuring out what values or lessons you want to teach your child, how to budget for your library, where to find the books that fit with your library ‘goals’ and also how to re-evaluate and re-adjust your library and the books in it as your child grows and develops.
From there, Sam delves in to the variety of different books available such as board books, picture books and young adult books AND makes suggestions about some of her own favourites. Aside from mentioning the different types of books available, Sam also makes note of the content of the book and how it is important to have a variety of different books within your library, for example, having books about lessons (such as manners) or silly books which are simply just light reading to be enjoyed.
The slightly OCD side of me particularly enjoyed Chapter 4 because that’s where Sam teaches you how to organize and display your library. Clara already has a tonne of books and I must admit, they aren’t displayed (like at all) because we are planning on moving her into a bigger bedroom. BUT, I have already been brainstorming ideas for the reading nook I am going to create when I re-do her bedroom and I particularly liked Sam’s suggestion of displaying them like a news stand. Why? Because it allows all the beautiful illustrations to become a piece of art and a focal point of the room, rather than just looking like a bookshelf.
Sam provides a tonne of valuable information throughout her entire book, but she also goes one step further in supporting the parent who wants to curate a library for their child by providing a link to her online resources. The online resources include a masterplan for creating your own library and a milestone checklist so both you and your child can get excited and involved in building the library.
What I Learnt
It’s easy for me to sit here and talk about what the book can teach you and my opinion of the book, but I think it’s important for me to show you the value of the book too. I want you to know what I learnt from it and how it’s helped my family to curate a library for Clara.
As I mentioned above Sam steps you through the process of figuring out what type of books you want to add to your collection by first identifying who you are as a parent and what you want to teach your child. Clara is only 4 months old but already we have begun to think about the things we want her to know and the things we want to teach her. One of the values which is important to our family that’s reflected in the books we’ve chosen is a love and respect for animals – that’s why we’ve added books like Noni the Pony. We chose this particular book as it’s a board book – which means when Clara is a toddler it’ll be durable enough that she won’t be able to rip out pages and also be a book that she can actively engage with on her own.
Aside from reflecting the values of our family, we also want to have books which can be educational as Clara moves from being our squishy little babe in to a toddler (a while off yet for educational books, I know, but you can’t ever start too early right?!). So I’ve also been mindful in adding books which teach her something, a favourite which we are reading to her already is Where Is The Green Sheep? This another board book, so is age appropriate, but it also teaches children about colours and objects (and incorporates the animal theme mentioned above!).
I think it’s pretty obvious from my praise above that I adore this book. The book isn’t written for one type of parent (it’s not for the crunchy mum, or the modern mum, or the country mama) it’s for ALL parents regardless of their age, geographic location, values or parenting style.
The Intentional Bookshelf isn’t just a book to teach parents how to curate a library for their child. No, it is a book that will help you figure out who you want to be as a parent and how you can parent your child with literature. It’s a resource which will help you parent your child the way you feel is best.
If literature is important to you and your family (like it is to ours!) then you must have Sam’s book on your shelf and in your parenting arsenal!