By Leslie Lindsay
I love the library. The stacks of books, the smell of paper, the peace and quiet. And all of that knowledge. It’s well…a little piece of heaven for me. In fact, I once had a dream in which I was flying and I looked down and there were all of these beautiful wood bookshelves, floor to ceiling. The windows were large and sunlight was streaming through. Everything appeared white and heavenly. So I asked my guide, “Is this heaven?” I know, it sounds really cheesy, but it’s true. Just call me a nerd.
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But, in reality, there is a very different feel to the library. Young children who don’t yet know the unspoken rule that the library is a place of study and quiet run about pulling books off shelves, while their harried mothers quickly scoop them up. Yep, I’ve been there.
So, what’s a parent to do?
- Take you children to the library, anyway. Tell them ahead of time that it’s a place for “quiet bodies and quiet mouths.”
- Take your children starting at a young age. The younger the better, so they start to learn what library behavior is all about. They’ll also see that you love learning and libraries, so it’s a famiy thing.
- Pick a day or time that almost always works with your life. Go often. Stick with a routine.
- As soon as your children are old enough, get them a library card. Our library requires that a child be able to sign their name alone. That’s usually around 4 or 5 years. A library card is cool, it is power.
- Head to the children’s section and plop your kiddos at a table. Tell them to find a few books they want to look at while you search the shelves for titles you’d like to take home. Check on your kiddos periodically by bringing a stack of books to them.
- You can always ask your children’s librarian for assistance in locating a particular book, especially if you have little ones in tow. I used to come in and politely ask if the librarian could help find picture books for 2-5 year olds on ____. (whatever you wanted). Now, I am not necesssarily talking nonfiction here. You can find actual stories about pet stores, or farm life, or going to the beach. It worked well when we had “themes” at home on a weekly basis when the girls were younger.
- Sometimes, a librarian will print off a list of books that may be of interest to you and you go to the stacks to find them. That’s a whole lot easier than just scanning the shelves.
- Cozy up and read with your children while you are there. They will love it!
- If you child brings home a reading list from preschool (or any grade, really), take it with you the next time you head to the big building with lots of books. Look for some upcoming titles you know your child’s class will be reading. It gives him a “leg up!”
- Remember, the library has things for adults, too…find a novel or DVD just for you.