By taking your child/children to the library, you are doing something really important, introducing them to the world of books. What better way to nurture their interest in finding out about the world around them? In the library, all knowledge is at their fingertips; how exciting! When a child sees their parents/guardians enthusiastic about something, they will often want to share in this enthusiasm.
Why you should take your kids to the library
The children’s section in a library has books that will excite and stimulate your child’s mind. Regularly attending the library will become a habit that you and the child or children will not want to break! The child will look forward to their visit. The anticipation of looking for more exciting tales that can be read to them or that they can read to themselves will be something they will look forward to.
The pleasure can be enormous for the parent taking their children to the library, especially for the first time. The child will learn how to look for specific books and be able to find their favourite authors and discover new ones. The many genres on offer will be sure to capture the child’s imagination and broaden their minds. The child will learn that there are many different authors and styles of writing.
A generation or two ago, parents took children to the library for a few reading books. Within two weeks, when the books came due, the family went again to return the completed stories and borrow a few more. For centuries, libraries have provided valuable reading material to people of all ages.
But that was only the beginning. If you haven’t been to a library lately, you’re in for a treat. Pack up the kids and head off for an exciting time of exploring the many free resources available for patrons of all ages at today’s public libraries.
Free resources available in your local library
- Books old and new. Looking for a classic favourite? Chances are your library has a copy or can quickly get one through interlibrary loan services that connect all branches to the main location. Stories that have been around for generations sit beside the latest releases on shelves organised by the famous Dewey decimal system. If you’re unsure how to find something, check the card catalogue, which is now located online on the computers found in most libraries or in the traditional card format of one per book.
- Magazines for many topics. Fashion, health, sports, news, and finance are some of the more popular magazine subjects found in many libraries today. Read several past issues in print or browse microfiche versions of older editions. Popular, professional, and scholarly publications can be enjoyed as reading material or as a student’s research support. Why pay for costly subscriptions when you can read each month’s issue for free?
- Computer use. Many libraries offer several computers for their patrons’ use. Computers can be accessed with a visitor’s user identification, issued by a librarian, to check email, browse library holdings, or surf the Web. If you don’t have a computer at home, use one of the Library’s computers to play games, compose a paper, or join a discussion group. Bring a disk if you want to save your work to take with you.
- Audio-Visual resources. Looking for a free video to borrow? Your library may have up-to-date selections to rival those at the local video store. Borrow classical music to listen to, recorded sound effects for a school or church play, or foreign language recordings to prepare for a trip abroad. Educational film strips and other materials are available for teachers’ use or student reports.
- Special events. Bring your toddler to a weekly read-aloud story hour. Or encourage your school-age child to stop in for the learning program series that features science, magic, and live animal displays. Even teens and adults may be interested in enrolling in the summer reading program or coming to hear a professional speaker make a community presentation. Or shop the occasional book sales when you can pick up a great read at a low price.
How to make a trip to the library fun
Themes are a fun way to organise a trip to the library and make a bit of a “treasure hunt” out of it as you look for books and DVDs on certain subjects: trains, weather, horses, rocks – you can make a theme out of anything and set out to find whatever you can on the subject.
It’s fun for some children to check out the same books over and over again, while others delight in a new adventure. If your child has been doing a unit in preschool or daycare or something on a television show that sparked their interest, it can be great to organise a trip to the library specifically to find out more.
Libraries are not babysitters!
It is important for parents to refrain from treating the librarians in the children’s section like babysitters – dumping children off in the children’s books and then wandering off to look at adult books, music, or movies. Supervise your children at all times, even during storytimes and other group activities where there seem to be plenty of other adults and parents available.
The children’s librarians are not teachers or babysitters. Storytellers, authors, and others also appreciate and expect parents to be there to supervise and maintain order while they are reading or performing.
Also, don’t restrict your visits to the library to just visiting the children’s section. Depending on the size of your local library, climbing the stairs, investigating different floors, and experiencing the architecture can all be part of the adventure for your child. When my own children were younger, we used to take visits to a university library in our town once or twice a month – in addition to our city library.
Take a trip to your local university library
The university library didn’t really have the fancy and elaborate children’s section that the city library did, but my kids loved the old buildings, walking along with the college students and climbing the huge marble stairs ascending through the middle of the library. Some of the available children’s books were so old that my kids were intrigued by the way they felt and smelled and the old-fashioned pictures. They learned quickly how they needed to behave differently in order to be allowed to visit the grown-up library.
Whatever your educational or recreational interests, the public library has something to offer. Stop in to check out the latest holdings and renew your membership. Chances are you’ll leave with something new and fun to do.