There is no doubt that the best reference library you will find is your local public library. Caspar could spend all day at our library and he often borrows more books than he can carry.
It's sometimes difficult to decide which books to buy and which to borrow. When it comes to reference books I carefully select which ones we bring into our home. For Caspar at five years I look for reference books that;
- have large, clear, beautiful, high quality images. Images must be captivating and inspiring.
- have slightly larger than usual (adult reference book) text.
- are indeed factual - please don't leave New Zealand off the map!
- have the right balance between images and text. I don't want a picture book or a chapter book.
- have interesting, insightful and useful facts. Dot point or summaries are excellent.
- are intelligent and don't speak down to children.
- have longevity, will still be of interest in a couple of years time.
What are our must-haves? There are some books that I believe are essential.
- Picture Dictionary
- World Atlas
- Field Guides
- Children's Encyclopedias
- Books as per the child's interests
What does our reference library look like?
- Picture Dictionary.
- World Atlas.
- Typically I look for field guides that are small and easy to carry but this is not always the deciding factor. I believe local field guides are important! We use Birds of Canberra Gardens and a Field guide to the Native Trees of the ACT. Two local field guides that look fantastic include the Field Guide to the Birds of the ACT and Reptiles and Frogs of the Australian Capital Territory. We have other Australian field guides by Steve Parish and Cronin. We have international field guides in the Golden Guide range. We have purchased local field guides to stimulate interest in the local scenery on holidays such as the Animals of the Wet Tropics when visiting North Queensland.
- DK Children's Encyclopedia of Animals and First Human Body Encyclopedia.
- We have many reference books to meet Caspar's interests. The books we use the most cover topics such as Rocks and Minerals, Egypt and Pyramids, Earth and we have many books on specific animals.
- We also have a reference book about our pets - Hermit Crabs. This has been essential for keeping pets that we know very little about and it's fun to keep next to our aquarium for reference.
If you have a reference library I'd love to hear your suggestions.