Inside: Do you know that libraries are one of the best places to take your kids? If you want to create life-long learners, build your children’s brains, and spark their love of adventure and curiosity—go to the library every week. It’s more than a place to check out books—valuable lessons are learned at the library. Here are 4 reasons to take your kids to the library…
The Library is the Best Place for Kids
I stood awestruck, speechless and delighted. There in front of me were rows and rows of books on neatly organized shelves. I had never seen so many books in one place. I carefully pulled a book from the shelf; ran my hand over the cover, put the book up to my nose, and inhaled deeply.
A woman with a kind face smiled and motioned for me to sit down with the other children.
She started to read:
“This is George
He lived in Africa
He was very happy.
But he had one fault.
He was too curious.”
(from original text 1941 copyright)
My first day at the library.
My first day at story time.
The first time I heard, Curious George by H.A. Rey.
I was five years old.
Since that first library visit, I’ve had an ongoing love affair with books. For me, the definition of heaven is being in a place surrounded by books.
Childhood Memories of the Library
What are your memories of going to the library when you were young? Do you remember when you got your first library card? Do you remember the first book that was read to you at a library?
When I was growing up I loved our local library. It was a short distance from my home and I walked there every week, sometimes twice and three times a week to check out books. But it was also a place of refuge for me. When life became unrelentingly difficult or challenging, I escaped to the library for solace and peace.
And I found it there–every single time!
Unlike most libraries, my library was a high-gabled English Tudor style building surrounded by trees, grass, and birds. It looked like a place right out of the Secret Garden. In 1935, the Sugar House Library, (Sprague Branch) in Salt Lake City, Utah was selected by the American Library Association as “The Most Beautiful Branch Library in America.”
This happened long before I was born, but that distinction carried with it a sense of pride for our small community.
Why the Library is the Best Place for Kids
Libraries are places that generate lasting memories for your kids, create life-long learners, and foster a love of reading and of books. They’re places where imagination and creativity come alive. They’re one of the best places to visit if you want to raise smart kids who know how to think.
We took our kids to the library weekly. Our son Brandon would literally run to find his favorite book, “The Monkey’s Tale,” and always fearful that someone else may have checked it out first (not sure why–I think we had a permanent “hold” on that book and checked it out every single week and sadly it is no longer in print…)
Start a tradition by taking your children to the library every week. Get each family member their own library card (teaches individual accountability). And then check out lots and lots of books. Each week we checked out between 50 and 80 children’s books. You can too. And yes, we read them all—several times before returning them.
If you want to read about some fun books for kids, check out three of my blogs: “6 Best Children’s Books About Fun Foods & Awesome Adventures,” “11 Amazing Ways Children’s Books Teach Lessons With Food,” and “7 Awesome Ways Fairy Tales Make You Larger Than Life.”
You will find that libraries teach lessons far beyond being a place for checking out books. Other lessons can be learned as well.
Four Lessons Learned at the Library:
#1: Borrowing Books Teaches the Art of Sharing and Responsibility
Where can you go where you are completely surrounded by all kinds of books, magazines, DVDs, journals, publications and all available to use for free? When you take your child to the library you are teaching her/him the concept of giving and sharing.
Cities and communities purchase these books and make them available to people in the community. When you check out books, you now have a responsibility to take care of them so that others can enjoy them for years to come. And returning books on time shows respect for library rules and appreciation for being able to borrow something this wonderful for free.
This may seem like a small thing, but each visit to the library teaches these valuable lessons.
#2: Libraries Create a Sense of Community
Public libraries strengthen communities. They foster a sense of “other people” awareness and camaraderie and do so by offering different programs such as:
- Storytime for toddlers
- Art exhibits
- Family movie night
- Book clubs
- Video game tournaments
- Puppet shows
- Meeting Spaces
- Internet access
In addition to checking out books, you can also check out:
- Museum passes
- Musical instruments
- Fishing poles
- A plot in a garden
- Even a Person! These “human library” programs allow you or your child to sit down and talk to a real person about countries, cultures, people, politics, and ideas, etc.
Today, libraries are so much more than they were fifty years ago. They are places you can mingle and talk; read and write; study and learn; form bonds of friendships, and connect with your community on multiple levels.
#3: Books Teach About Faraway Places
Few families can afford to take their children to faraway places. We couldn’t. But, we could take our children to faraway places inside the covers of books.
And we did.
We explored countries and cities, monuments and islands. Through library books, we studied what goes on behind the scenes of world-famous places like the Louvre in Paris, the Vatican in Rome, the plains of the Serengeti, and the deserts of Egypt.
It was the library that helped our sons understand just how big this world is and it whet their appetite to someday see these places…which they have.
And it all began at the library.
#4: Creating Life-Long Learners and Book Lovers
It is natural to want to pass down to our children those things we love and are passionate about. One of my passions is reading; another is learning. I wanted my kids to love reading and learning by showing them the way. I wanted to introduce them to the exciting and awe-inspiring world of books by taking them to the library and by building a library of our own at home.
You can too.
Try these 6 suggestions to make the library and reading an awesome experience for your children:
- Read books to your children in utero.
- Take books with you to the hospital when you go to deliver your baby.
- Begin reading to him/her within a few hours after birth.
- At home, create a reading corner where your kids can curl up with a book on big comfy pillows and read to their heart’s delight. Make certain the lighting is good, too! This space can become your family’s own personal family “library.”
- Make a daily “reading ritual” by reading many books to each child each day.
- And make visits to the library a weekly destination and a coveted family tradition.
4 Outcomes when you do these things:
- Your children will be early talkers and early readers.
- They will become strong writers with large vocabularies and voracious readers.
- They will excel in school.
- They will learn to think deeply and become wellsprings of knowledge
These things can happen because they happened with our sons. Our children are now adults, and the library is one of their favorite places to take their kids. Their love of reading and of the library has now reached another generation of children…my grandchildren.
We talk to our sons and grandchildren weekly.
Our favorite subject…books.
You can access the 2-minute video here
Tell me about your experiences of taking your children to the library. How often do you go? Does your library offer a lot of extra activities such as storytime, art exhibits or a family movie night? What do your children like best about the library? Please comment on the section below.
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