It can be nerve-wracking letting your child ‘read’ books since many pages get ripped, pulled out, and chewed. I tried my best to supervise my children when they were infants and toddlers to help eliminate the need for constant book repair. We keep the board books lower on the shelf so the younger ones can’t reach the books with paper pages, but this does not always work out successfully! I came up with a little teaching idea when I was working in a preschool that helps with teaching children to care for books: a Book Hospital.
It’s so simple to put together!
Teaching Children to Care for Books: Book Hospital
-wrapping paper or a large sheet of butcher paper
-red felt (or construction paper)
Making your Book Hospital:
You can see in the picture how easy this is to create. You can even get your child involved, although I had to do most of the wrapping and cutting.
1) Cut off any flaps on the top of the box. Your book hospital does not need a top because you want it to be easy for a child to place books inside.
2) Wrap the box with the paper. Just like wrapping a gift. Trim the paper as need to fold and tuck it, then tape it to keep it secure.
3) Cut out a cross shape (like the symbol for the Red Cross) and glue it onto the side of your box. The glue was not quite dry when I took this picture, but school glue dries clear.
4) I wrote Book Hospital on each end of the box to reinforce literacy since this was going to be sitting on our bookshelf and the kids would notice the words on the side.
5) Teach your child how to use the book hospital-
From the time they are infants, I try to teach my children that they need to treat books gently. We don’t walk on them, throw them or rip the pages. That was a nice thought, but my kids still despite my reinforcement of these “rules” have damamged some over the years. We read a lot, so our books really do look used after four kids!
I am not one to just toss something away if it looks worn, so I taught my children to notice when books were ripped or damaged. They can put any ripped books into the book hospital along with any pieces of pages they may find and I look through it to repair the books that can be fixed. I use clear packing tape, and we really have managed to hold on to a lot of books for the entire time we have had children. It makes it fun to read the same books to my twins that I read to their older siblings.
The kids like to “help” me tape the books, so often there is a small piece of tape on a page in a random spot because when they are learning they can’t precisely line up where the tape needs to go on a seam. That is ok. (It’s clear tape.) I try to let my kids help as often as possible when they ask, because I do want to teach them that I value them, I want to encourage them to always offer to help, and I want to reinforce that they are capable of doing so many things.
My oldest son wanted the hospital to have windows, so he attempted to draw some on one side. That was ok with me. He wanted to make it his own, and that is a good thing. It did not need to look pristine and perfect.
Teach your child when they find a ripped book to place it in the Book Hospital to be repaired. Spend time repairing books so your children learn that we can repair things when they are damaged-and it saves money. Teaching children to care for books is about exposure to lessons and learning opportunities. Sorting through the books and setting ripped ones in the book hospital is a great way to get kids involved in spring cleaning too.
I talk to my children a lot about how we learn from books, and they are very valuable so we need to take care of them. It takes time and maturity for children to start to recognize how their actions affect things and people, but it is a lesson-in-progress starting from when you first expose your child to books. Reading to your child from birth (and often even before they are born) is an important way to build love and a sense of security in your child as well as teach reading and writing skills.
How do you teach your child to take care of books?
More tips for getting kids toys organized:
Enjoy your time at home!