Last night I was having dinner with my dear friend Marykate, and we started talking about this post. PLEASE, for the love of all that is good, do NOT miss the comments. You will cry with laughter.
I drive past this several times a day as I’m out and about:
This is the children’s wing of our local library.
Each time I admonish myself for not taking better advantage of this wonderful, educational, free resource. Seriously, what excuse can I possibly have?
I asked Dear Reader Sarah F. (not to be confused with Sarah D. of geocaching fame) to share some ideas on her library routine with her twin 3-year-old adorables (ahem, they are 5 now…).
How do use your local library?
We LOVE libraries. Our frequent use of the library serves many purposes, from filling open times during our week with an activity we all enjoy to reinforcing what I tell my boys every day, that if you learn to read, then you can teach yourself anything you wish! Using the library frequently is good practice in manners (being quiet, waiting in line, saying please and thank you), sharing (returning books so other children can have their turn to bring them home), speaking to other adults in a polite manner that can be heard and understood (asking the librarian where the space books are, or the fire engine books, or that one about the otter that learns to swim…), group participation and following through with a commitment (summer reading program). I believe there are teaching moments in the simplest parts of every day, and there are some places or activities that conveniently offer a plethora of lessons and good examples that directly give kids the practice they need at very important skills they’ll use throughout their lives; libraries are one of those places.
What is your library routine?
When my kids were under 2, we went to the library on a weekly basis for “Books & Babies” story time and to check out board books. Now, we visit the library several times each month. In general, I will search the online catalog a few days before we go so the picture books I know I want are on the hold shelf waiting for me. I look up favorites we’ve checked out before. books that relate to our lives right now (learning to swim, moving to a new house, riding a bike, flying on an airplane, etc….) and books that I’ve seen recommended in magazines or by friends. The library is also a great place to explore more work by the author of a book your kids love. That’s how we fell in love with Chris Van Dusen! Our library has a great summer reading program with activities and special performances throughout the summer months. We have taken advantage of some of those but we don’t do story time much right now. We read so much at home that my boys are ready to explore when they hit the library, not sit still for a book.
Any tips for keeping your library books separate at home?
At home we have two shelves on our book shelf that are designated for library books (see below). This helps us find library books quickly when it’s time to return them and also helps the boys go right to a book they checked out recently.
Visiting Libraries during travel…
We don’t just visit our local library, we drive to Topeka and Kansas City libraries and we visit the library near my parents when we stay with them in Colorado. My mom has visited her library before one of our visits and filled her house with 30 fun new books for the boys to read for the week that we’re there.
What do you think your adorables are learning?
The Reading Rainbow and Super Why recommendations to “Look- in a book!” are a philosophy of learning in our house. We purposefully point out to the boys when we read a manual, a cookbook, a publication about coffee (the family business)….so they see that it’s not just a kid thing we’re trying to instill, but a family practice and a way of living where acquiring knowledge is a life long endeavor. At the very least, they will be prepared for reading, writing and research, which is 70% of success in school, I think.
Borrow, don’t buy…
The children’s section of a library is a good resource on “citizenship” issues like caring, honesty, hard work, conflict resolution, feelings, as well as books about the human body. Both of these categories are books you might not want to buy for your home library, but they are perfect to share visuals and helpful words, phrases and stories when you are helping your kids work through these things and internalize values. The repetition that books provides in simple terms can take the pressure off giving a lecture repeatedly and I have found it interesting how my boys will keep requesting a book like that until they have it down. Re: the digestive system and our talk about how food travels through the body. They were fascinated by seeing all those “pipes” inside their body and learning that those pipes pull out good things from the food they eat, that’s why it’s important to put good food in the pipes in the first place, etc…. books can be a fantastic springboard for other conversations. Now they know why I want them to eat well! We also talk about “just enough and not too much,” a phrase from the title of one of our favorite library books that stresses moderation in life. Another book, “Little by Little” is about learning new things one little step at a time. I can just say those phrases and the boys immediately know what I’m talking about thanks to how the book illustrates and spells these concepts out for them.
Thanks Sarah for these incredible ideas!
After talking with Sarah, I’m making a commitment for more regular library visits – there will be no driving past.
Need I say more?
I also learned that many libraries (perhaps all?) receive their funding based on circulation, which means the more you check out, the more money they get! So we filled 3 bags with books and I have been amazed how my adorables remember which books they chose and how often they sit with our basket of library books at home.
So now I could kick myself for passing the library by before!!
What is your library routine? Do you have any good tips to share?
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