Get the most out of your local library
Posted in How To! on September 21, 2012 |Comments
By: Natasha Biasell
When is the last time you’ve actually stepped foot inside your local library? With the rise of the internet age, you might think public libraries are on the decline, but according to the American Library Association (ALA), there are actually more public libraries in the United States – 16,604 to be exact – than McDonald’s fast food chains! Now that’s a refreshing statistic.
As a mom of a toddler, I have found tons of great reasons to visit or utilize our local library. Below are my tips for parents on how to best utilize your local library, and how to encourage your child to appreciate it in the process!
1. Get a library card for you AND your child! In most cases, library cards are free, easy and give you access to tons of membership benefits. Many libraries will have applications you can download online, and make it easy to join the club. Signing up your child for a library card can be a great introduction to responsibility. Help them understand and be involved in the process, and teach them about what it means to be a library member. They can select their own books, take them home, and set up a schedule helping them remember when the books are due. It’s also a good way to instill a love of reading, research, and getting them comfortable with utilizing public resources. If they are familiar with libraries before they start school, they’ll be a giant step ahead.
2. Check out the calendar of events. Many libraries offer free or affordable events aimed at families with children. These can include story-telling, language and educational workshops, and even things like music and magicians.
3. Plan weekly or monthly library outings. Public libraries are free, temperature-controlled, and often times beautiful. Make it a regular activity that your child can get excited about, maybe even pack a fun picnic lunch for them to eat outside or at a nearby park, complete with their newly borrowed books.
4. Borrow more than books. Your little one will be pleased to learn that they can borrow more than just books at their local library. Check out the magazines, music, and even the video (VHS/DVD) section for free, fun, educational entertainment for both children and adults.
5. Look online. Couldn’t find what you were looking for? Is that popular Elmo episode already given out? Many libraries have done an excellent job of incorporating technology into their systems and are now interconnected with other local branches. Check to see if your library offers an online portal where you can search for and reserve materials (books, movies, music) from other nearby libraries and have them delivered to your closest branch, for FREE, all right from your own home computer.
6. Broaden horizons. Renting from a library can be an excellent way to broaden your child’s perspectives and teach you about your child’s tastes. Don’t just assume what they like, let them figure out their own interests by offering a wide selection of information at their fingertips. Just when I thought Dora the Explorer was her favorite character, I was shocked to learn that my then 20-month-old daughter had a fascination with dinosaur books.
7. Foster a love of reading. Visiting your local library and perusing the children’s section can spur on and cultivate a love of reading in your little one. My daughter loves reading so much that I decided to create a little library space for her at home in our living room. As a first birthday present, her grandfather built her a display-style bookcase so she could easily see and reach her own books. Now, instead of depending on me, toys, or television to entertain her, she’ll often mosey over to her little library corner, sit on her bear chair, and get lost in a good book.