The public library is a community treasure that can help grow our imaginations, expand our worlds and provide information for projects and school work. It’s a great place to explore year round – especially in the summer when the kids are out of school. Most public libraries offer free programs, book talks, arts and crafts projects, visits from authors, and much more.
But before taking advantage of these great programs, take the kids to the library to help them understand how the library works and how to act in the library.
Use an analogy to explain to little ones that we can go to the library to borrow books, videos, and other media. The books are like visitors that come to our house for a short visit and then have to go back to their own home, the library. It is also important that students understand that we ALL share the books, so we need to treat the books with care. That means not tearing or bending the pages or writing in the books and making sure we return the books on time.
Most importantly, let the kids browse the shelves. Explain to older students that the books are organized by fiction and non-fiction, and talk about the system the library uses to allow us to search for and find specific books easily. You can even get a librarian’s help to explain where to find books that interest your children.
Here are a few more tips for making the most out of your visit to the library. Be sure to check the library’s website for programs that you and your children will be sure to love!
- Get your child a library card. Kids take pride in having their own library card and feel more responsibility for caring for the items they check out.
- Make regular visits. Find a day of the week that works for routinely visiting the library. Then it becomes part of your week (which can probably get pretty busy) to find new books and even meet up with friends. When you become a regular, you’ll get to know your way around the library and get to know the librarians – who can be a valuable resource.
- Learn how to find books and media. Let your kids explore the computer system your library uses to locate books, and reinforce with your kids how the books and media are organized and shelved together. Explain that if the library doesn’t have something that you are looking for, you can easily search other libraries in the area for the item. You might even create a scavenger hunt to find certain books once the kids are familiar with the library’s system.
- What interests your child? Choose books that are an extension of the things your kids love. Do they love to play soccer? Get a biography of their favorite player. If they loved the movie Finding Nemo or Finding Dory, get some books about tropical fish. You can also sometimes find the book or audiobook for a movie your kids loved. Once they have finished the book, have them check out other books by the same author. Check out the magazines, too. From sports to animals, there should be a magazine that captures your child’s interests.
- Grab the calendar of activities. Libraries usually have different events every month. Grab the calendar and plan ahead so you don’t miss your favorite events.
- Explore different branches. Each library branch has its own personality. You might like the feel of one branch over the other, even if it means traveling a little farther.
Experiencing the library as a family instills that the library is a source for lifelong learning. If your kids see you checking out books and reading at home, they will follow your example and soon love being at the library!