Creating a Home Library

Reading is one of the oldest forms of entertainment.

Many from our older generation grew up reading books and listening to radio. Having books around us can mean an escape from the everyday, give us something else to think about, and something new to learn. Books can give us a view of the world we didn’t know about before.

bookshelf and books

Creating a home library for an older loved one can be as small or as large a project as you wish. Here are some tips:

  • First take inventory of the books your loved one already has. Are they books he is still interested in? Are they books he can still understand and see (considering any decline in cognitive abilities or eyesight)? Include in your library books you think he will enjoy, books he is still interested in, and books that will not cause frustration (from being too difficult to either see or understand).
  • Next, make a list of the books he does not have that he might be interested in. Include those of interest like hobbies, how to books, fiction, non-fiction, short stories, religious and spiritual, picture books such as coffee table books, humorous books, cookbooks, school yearbooks, family albums, magazines, etc…
  • Consider adapted reading materials such as audio books or large print. Our page on books has more information about adaptations, as well as types of books that might be interesting.
  • Find storage for his books. The whole idea for creating a home library is so that your loved one will participate in an activity he enjoys. (If this is an enjoyment of his.) Making reading accessible and visible is the key. Bringing the books into view will be a reminder to stop, pick up a book, and read or page through it. With this thought in mind, consider the storage you will use to create this space, that is, where he can easily see it and access it. So a reading space might be in the form of a magazine rack or small book case next to his easy chair. It might also mean a stack of his favorite books on a side table between two bookends. Books can also be kept in a basket or on a shelf. If cookbooks are a favorite, keep some handy stacked in the kitchen while he is waiting for dinner. Books can have a home just about anywhere, even a bag that he can take with him on outings.
  • Consider the seating in the room where you choose to place the books. Make sure he has a place to sit down, has good lighting, and has his reading glasses if needed.
  • If your loved one has many books, consider just bringing a few at a time to a basket or nook beside him. Keeping just a couple of books close by will help to not overwhelm him. Also changing up the books occasionally will help to keep things fresh.
  • Keep bookmarks available so that favorite passages in books can be saved.
  • If he has grandchildren that visit, keep some children’s books there for reading to them or the grandchildren reading to him.
  • Consider not only books that your loved one will read on his own, but also those that you can read or look at with him. Talk about the books, look at pictures, and create opportunities for further discussions, even reminiscing.
  • See more about Creating Activity Spaces and why it’s a good idea.

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