Back to School Means Back to the Library!
Statue: Children Reading
Early Library Memories
When I was a girl, I loved to go to the library. Our elementary school was freshly built and I was proud that my mother was one of the volunteer library ladies. Later, this passion for books and reading earned her an Associate’s Degree in Library Science and a lifetime career as a librarian.
Back then, we lived in a small town, which had no library of its own. Instead, our choices were divided between the library of our neighboring town, which was actually a converted house, and the ‘big’ county library.
In fact, it was the Macomb County Library which provided the monthly book mobile in our neighborhood. I always loved the concept of driving around a huge van filled with shelves of books. I envisioned myself doing that one day-reading and traveling to the places that the books I read described.
At sixteen I snared a coveted job as the ‘page’ at the local library. It paid a buck thirty-five per hour and was my first actual job in which I received a cut paycheck. Can you get the irony of the use of the word ‘page’ for someone whose job it is to return books filled with pages to the shelves? Hah! I thought that was very clever.
I considered this to be one of the best jobs I had for several reasons: I had first crack at all of the new books coming in; it allowed me to see what interested other people; it had great working conditions; and best of all-it led me to the Directory of Summer Jobs . This was a handy book listing summer jobs across the United States. It led to my summer job on Mackinac Island two years later, post high school graduation.
The Importance of Owning a Library Card
No matter where I have travelled, my priority in a new place was to visit the local library and obtain a card. So, as a young mother living in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, I joined the local library and brought my young daughters there to learn how to choose a book, how to care for it, and how to sit quietly during story hour.
I’ve listened to lectures, kept up with news via community computers, and met some of the greatest people in the libraries I’ve visited across the country.
Young PatronsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Libraries have come a very long way since my days of shelving books. Modern technology has stepped in with many convenient mechanisms to speed up the check out process and make running the library more efficient. Some libraries even have a self check out system in place.
But, what I have discovered, as libraries have evolved, is not just what is offered on the shelf, but the delightful additions that make the facility appealing to young and old patrons alike. Now, as a grandmother of four, visiting the library with my grand kids is one of my favorite things to do. And, I am still as excited as that young girl was entering the bookmobile, when I walk into the children's section. But, boy things have changed!
Children’s artwork hangs on the walls from special programs and contests that encourage them to read. Animals scurry around in cages surrounded by a stack of nature books. Fluffy pillows and child sized tables and chairs invite youngsters to engage in their books on the spot. Computers line one wall with learning activities. A puppet theatre sits in one carpeted corner and a table with hands on activities sits in another.
While each library is different, the atmosphere is the same: warm, inviting and a place you and your child will want to hang out at.
Support Your Local Library
Teaching a child to use the library is giving her a gift of a lifetime. Starting at infancy the environment of a library is one that will make your baby feel warm and fuzzy. As he grows, crawls and toddles around, regular trips to the library will give him the idea that this is a normal part of childhood…to be among books, reading, studying and learning.
As a toddler, your child can attend story hour. This teaches her several things-how to listen, how to pay attention in a group, how to participate, and always it is about the books and the magic of reading.
By three or four your child can help you decide what books appeal to him. Picture books with bright, colorful pages, few words and lots of cool sounds to mimic are a blast to read aloud. Reading aloud to your child gives her special time with mom and dad and the knowledge that this is important.
By kindergarten your child should be choosing his own books. Engaging in library visits on a regular basis will create a familiarity for the time when he will be researching information for his classes as he gets older.
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Do you own a library card?
Fun things to explore in the libraryClick thumbnail to view full-size
Make It A Habit
There is a vast variety of books to read to your child to teach her about the world, herself, and growing up. Make it a family tradition to set a time in the evening reading together aloud, or as they get older, reading individually.
The favorite time of the evening with my children was after bath and before bed. I read to them, as my mother had read to our family, and it was a wonderful way to end the day. Today, the continuation of my own daughters reading to their children makes my heart glow.
Teaching a child to read is a parental duty. It is every child’s right to be literate. Taking the time to introduce your child to the magical house of books-the library, is giving them a portal to another world.