The local library is often a forgotten children’s destination. We think of going to the park, the beach or lake, a local water park, or a favorite amusement park when it comes to having fun. Reading seems to be a “school work” only activity and not seen as recreational or something to do for fun. Thus, libraries are neglected. But, I want to tell you that libraries can be fun. They have more to offer than just a corner to thumb through a dusty old book.
They Offer Reading Programs
Most often, the only reading program we hear about in libraries occurs during the Summer. However, your local library is open year-round. They extend services like Story Time, Learning to Read programs, and Tutoring to help children develop their literacy skills. And these programs are available for all ages. Check your local library’s webpage for what they offer to your community.
Story Time -This is an awesome time of hearing your favorite stories read by either the librarian or, if you are lucky, the Author themselves. I have been part of one of these events with my Children’s book series. Children love to be read to, and for them to experience story time in a community setting gets them to talk about books. They share the experience with their friends or make new friends through the experience.
Don’t think that Storytime is just not for toddlers. Libraries will have these events for many age groups. From babies through much of Elementary School, you can find that your local library has some level of Story Time for your young reader. They may even offer bilingual reading times.
Learning to Read -This service is targeted at youngsters under the age of 5 (at least in my local library. Check your local website for details for your area). It is designed to help little ones get ready for reading in Kindergarten. They are taught skills that help them succeed with reading when they enter school.
Tutoring -Many libraries offer Tutoring programs. This is for the older kids that are already in school. If they have a question about a grammar rule or need help understanding a math problem, this resource can benefit your school-age child. And it can help a parent who cannot seem to remember the order of operations when it comes to math or what a subordinate clause is.
They Offer a Larger Selection of Books
Once children are in school the usual library they visit is the school library. While they still can find books there, it is obvious that a full-service library has many more options that these smaller ones have.
Hard Copy -In the technological age we live in physical copies of books are becoming the lesser option when it comes to reading. Libraries are becoming less frequented as the point and click generation seeks sites like Barnes and Noble dot com.
Brick and mortar libraries will have an extensive number of children’s books, far beyond what one would think. Electronically, you may find it hard to locate out of print books, or those that are older and have not found their way to digital media yet. These gems can often be found on the shelves of a local library.
Something must be said about a physical book. The smell of a new book, the sound of the pages turning, and the feel of an open book in your hand are all sensory attributes to reading. I know some eReaders that have the sound of a turning page programmed into their apps. It’s not the same; nothing replaces a physical book. And a library gives you these nuances that have been forgotten.
Digital Copy -There is a time and place for an electronic copy of a book. If you are in a position where it is difficult to get to your local library, your child is not left out. You can still check out your children’s favorite books and be able to read a good book with them. Most major libraries have an online library where you can check out a book digitally. These are called eBooks. They work on eReader devices as well as most smartphones that have the application installed. One of the more popular ones is called Overdrive.
With Overdrive you can check out and download any book your library has to offer. All you need is your library card number.
Resources -In addition to books, your library has many other resources they offer; music, movies, and newspapers and magazines are also available to the public. While they may not always be mainstream hits or latest blockbuster, they have a vast array of titles from which to choose. The old newspapers and magazines can be useful when your child is older and has a research project to complete.
Other offerings from a library include arts and crafts, community events, and movie nights. Check your local library’s website for all the events they host to your local area.
They Are Open to Everyone
There is no three-page application. No prerequisites. No questionnaires. All your child needs is a library card. Yes, there is a form you must fill out with your address to show you are local to the area that the library serves, but that is it. You don’t have to pay a registration fee to join the club. If you are a reader and want to visit, you are in.
Of course, there are parental guidelines for certain things like internet use and certain age-appropriate material. The library will also safeguard your child’s selection. So, this is more of a benefit than a hindrance. You can rest assured that your child will not stumble across questionable material with a watchful librarian around. And speaking of a librarian, we cannot forget to give him or her a shout out.
Your Local Librarian
This is one of the best benefits of any library. These men and women know their stuff. They will know the title of a book by you or your child describing the story. They will know the Author of a book written decades ago that has been long forgotten. They will know where the book is on the shelf and how many copies are still available for your child to check out.
My local librarian, Miss Marianne, is a book whiz. In my article about A-Z books, she knew each and every one of them. She gave me the thumbs up or down with each one if it was worthy of being on the list. I was impressed with her knowledge. I knew most of them, but I had not read half of them. She described each tale down to the moral of the story. Miss Marianne is a great benefit to the literary progression of the children in Charlotte, Texas.
I do understand that your local library may not be as connected as others. If you live in a small town, as I do, your local library will be limited to what they can carry and how digitally they are connected to the resources they offer. My local library, in a town of 1200, is the size of a large living room. So, it may be difficult for some of you find what you are looking for in a small town.
However, I am confident that your librarian is connected to sources in a nearby city where they can get those missing titles. I know if Miss Marianne does not have a copy of The Hardy Boys: The Secret Agent on Flight 101, or a Katy Kazoo book that my daughter is looking for, that I can request it, and she will find a way to get a copy. Most librarians are resourceful like that.
If your child has a hunger for reading, there is no better way to feed that hunger than through a local library. They have everything from books to movies to teaching programs that can help your young reader grow and succeed at whatever they set out to accomplish. And they are staffed with a knowledgeable librarian who can point your child in the right direction when they feel “bored” and that they have read every-book-on-the-face-of-the-earth.