The library is a very special place. The hushed tones and walls of books to explore make it a wonderful haven for any child. But in this fast-paced world when everyone is so busy, a trip to the library can feel like a luxury of time you just can’t afford.
Well, maybe it’s simply a case of re-prioritising. Are all those things you have to do as important as helping your child discover the magic of finding and choosing the amazing books they want to read?
Now, we’re not trying to make you feel guilty at all – but wouldn’t it be nice to give yourself a break too? A visit to the library is one thing, but rather than rushing in and out to swap over your books, why not treat yourself to an hour or two, just sitting and reading in that lovely quiet space in companionable silence with your child?
Get to know your librarian
Once your library visits become routine, you will both look forward to your time there, and as a regular, you will likely get to know your librarian quite well. He or she may start to look out for books they know you will like and keep them aside for you, and you’ll get to know when new books are coming in.
Teach your child how the library is organised
The library is not just a nice space to read books! It’s a place for creativity, learning, researching and even exploring technology. For school age children, you can combine your trip to the library with completing a homework task. Show your child how to use the library’s system to find the books they want to read, and information they need to find. Your librarian will probably be very happy to help you.
Encourage your child to keep a record of their reading
It’s a good idea to have them keep a small journal and enter the name of the book and the author as they finish each one. Ask them to write a few sentences about the book, maybe stimulated by a few questions such as:
- What did you enjoy most about the book / story?
- Who was your favourite character, and why?
- What did you learn that you didn’t know before?
- Would you like to read more books by this author?
This way, your child will be able to articulate the kind of books he or she likes to read. You can use this record to find similar books you know they will like or challenge your child to seek out something new and very different.
Get to know your school librarian
Helping your child to feel comfortable navigating the library is a wonderful way to familiarise him/her with the library, and will also encourage them to make full use of their school library. It’s a good idea to make contact with the school librarian and help nurture that relationship. School librarians love to help children get the most from this wonderful resource.
Make the most of activities
Many libraries offer a schedule of learning activities for children, which you can take advantage of, and where your child will meet other children and make new friends.
The knowledge that the books they are reading do not belong to your child, and they must take very good care of them introduces children to the concept of responsibility. Having their own library card adds another layer of responsibility, which comes with expectations that must be upheld.
Preparing for the future
Exposing your child to the library on a regular basis from a young age will help them learn what resources are open to them for the future. Once they need to tackle some complex projects in middle school, they will be unfazed by using the library for research and even studying there from time to time to complete their tasks more effectively. These projects and assignments will become more intense as they grow, and their research skills will prove invaluable in well preparing them for fully utilising their university library when the time comes.
The library is full of hidden gems. Aside from the obvious access to an enormous amount and variety of books, some libraries offer children the opportunity to join book clubs and engage in fun learning activities. The earlier your child is introduced to the library, the more they will benefit, thereby setting them up for future success.
For more ideas on how to foster a love of literacy in your child, check out our previous article…
As Albert Einstein famously said “The only thing you absolutely have to know is the location of the library”.