Throughout recent times, reading has undergone a change in fortunes. Seen as being a little unpopular some years ago, it is now back in full swing as a hobby and from a very young age, children are being encouraged to develop reading as a hobby or interest.
Library initiatives such as Rhyme and Story classes and sessions, reward schemes such as Bookstart and the metamorphosis of children’s library from quiet room to vibrant, fun place coupled with the various health visitor and children’s centre schemes are helping to ensure that reading regains its’ rightful place as a quality pastime of children well into adulthood. For this reason, many parents choose a book shelf or chest of shelves as an integral part of their children’s bedroom furniture and although many of them enjoy the benefit of these structures together with the practical value of having books tidy, preserved and able to be seen and chosen, they rarely know or appreciate how shelves are made.
Firstly, it is essential that the height and width of the shelves and the distance between shelves is adequate for the size of the children’s books. It stands to reason when making shelves for children’s books that they should be suitable to the size and shape of the books but although adults books are often produced in a standard size whether they be hard or paperback, children’s books rarely are. They may be large picture books or may be “Ladybird” style story books. Either way, it is essential that the shelves be able to accommodate a variety of sizes and shapes of book as children’s books often feature unusual shapes or shaped edges.
A further consideration is the weight of books. Whilst it might be considered that one book alone would be quite light (unless it was War and Peace), a host or full collection of books is by no means light and the shelves must allow for the weight of many.
The next major consideration is the structure of the shelves. It goes without saying that the basic structure must be strong and durable and must allow for the fact that children are not always as genteel as might be hoped. Therefore a ground based structure should be firm enough that shaking and even climbing onto it would not cause the structure to collapse or books to fall from it. In contrast, a shelf which is intended to be wall mounted should be firm enough that even pulling on it cannot damage the shape or break the unit.
The basic structure of book shelves mean that they lend themselves to a variety of finishes and decorations and the finish and style of the shelves are often the first indication of the distinction between a designer or master craftsman and those which come from a mass produced structure.
Although classic wooden finishes are common, children’s bedroom furniture lends itself very well to a sense of whimsy and it is not unusual to find bright colours, letters of the alphabet and even figures of popular book characters carved carefully into the structure.