Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Gift of a Family Library

Our library year begins on August 1 every year. We opened for the first time in August of 2006, choosing this month of the year because in our community, most families head back to school during this month.

Originally we had intended just to collect wonderful books for our children and future grandchildren, books that were being lost in the vast onslaught of new publications, and which we knew to be superior in style and content to 99.99% of what is being turned out today. Eventually our collection grew to such an extent that, having been part of a homeschool lending library in Michigan, we felt compelled to share my books with other homeschooling families in our area.

My heart warmed to hear a talk by Dr. George Grant awhile back when he persuasively encouraged families to build their own libraries:

"I believe that one of the greatest gifts that you can ever give to your family is the legacy of a library - even if it is only a small bookshelf of carefully selected books, books that are read over and over and over, books that are well loved. Books are for life. They're for recording the story of a family."
How true. This is why we have dedicated ourselves to sharing this vision with others too.

Typically in our culture, an objection to collecting the tried and true great works of literature is the money. There was a time when a book would be considered the first choice for family enjoyment, but entertainment choices today are multitudinous. Other objections include lack of knowledge about what to collect and what to read, as well as lack of experience in book collecting. I have made these same excuses myself.

Here is what Dr. Grant says to these objections:

"It does not take a lot of money to build a small library - it just takes time; it does not take tremendous amounts of knowledge to build a library - it just takes love; itt does not take a great deal of expertise in order to build a small library - it just takes care, intentionality, purpose." 

Seven years ago we had experienced the truth of these words. We have learned a lot about books and authors since we deliberately began book collecting. Though we had no formal library science education, we tackled learning it. There has been a lot of "care, intentionality, purpose," behind this endeavor. God took care of the money.

At first we were drawn to books because we loved them ourselves. Then we were led to share them because we wanted others to love them too. We began with 11 families seven years ago, and have had the tremendous joy of receiving riches far beyond our dreams as we have toiled to build this over sixteen thousand volume library, trusted God for the provision of money and expertise, and watched Him work in many families besides our own as a result.

A library is a gift. Each book within it is an incalculable treasure to enrich the hearts and minds of its reader. Today we thank all the families and individuals who have labored and contributed their own gifts and expertise to encourage us and help make it possible for us to do this work. Above all, we thank our Heavenly Father who has seen fit to bless our family's library and use us in His great work through the power of His great gift of books.

I agree with Dr. Grant about the importance of a family library, the necessity of a family library, the rewards of a family library. Are the family memories of your children going to be rich with the presence of books, of stories read and loved together, of a library in the heart of your home?

For the joy of reading,



  1. I have just found your wonderful, insight and inspiring site! I was referred here by Robin P. from Simply Charlotte Mason. Here is my question: I have a dd15 and ds11. I love books and so does my dd. Since my ds is my last child would it make sense to start collecting books now? I know quite a few homeschooling families,but they are more the "school at home" type. Would you start a library this late if you didn't have littles?

    1. Cheryl,

      So glad you enjoy the website. As to whether you should start a library at this point, I hope I was emphatic enough in that post that every family should have a library. You still have several years left with children at home and they could be critical for their relationship with libraries as personal possessions. It is also highly likely that you will have grandchildren who will delight in the good old books again. I give advice here I have taken myself and didn't start serious collecting until I had three children over 18
      years old, one 12, one 5, one I didn't know about yet. I just tucked my grandson in for his nap and he said, "Grandma, I love your library." Really.


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    3. That was very sweet of your grandson! Yes, you were emphatic enough which is what prompted me consider. I will pray for guidance and I really do appreciate your wisdom!

    4. Cheryl,

      Just remember that you don't have to get as carried away with it as I do. You could have a perfectly respectable and excellent library of 150-300 books, not a hundred times that many.

      Have fun,