Friday, April 13, 2012

Celebrating National Library Week: The Importance of a Library Ritual

April 8th through April 14th is National Library Week.  And while I'm a little late in the celebration with this post, I thought I'd take a minute to appreciate one of our favorite hang outs - the library.

My own fascination with children's books actually began in my elementary school library, and with its librarian.  Some my fondest memories from those early years are of her reading to our class in the back of library, surrounded by stacks upon stacks of books.  My grade school librarian had a voice like no one I have ever met.  It's the kind of voice that sounds like it's being amplified, even though it's not. It's loud, distinctive, and yet somehow soothing all at the same time. Thanks to her unique voice, she had a true gift for making the characters in a story come to life (and for getting little children's attention). I adored listening to her read.

When baby bookworm was born, I couldn't wait to take her on her first trip to the local library.  I finally had a reason to revisit all of my favorite characters from my childhood!  We started visiting our library when she was about 4 months old, and attended the weekly baby story times.  We made a "ritual" out it.  Story time followed by playing and reading and browsing for books.  Two years later we are still visiting our library, doing the same ritual - at least once a week.  We come home with a stack of books (sometimes a few are for me) and read them right after lunch.  

If you have a baby or a toddler, I can't encourage you enough to get out there and make visiting your library into a weekly ritual.


1. You're showing your child that books are things that you value.  You are ultimately your child's first teacher, and things that are important to YOU will likely become important to your child, as well.

2. You have free ACCESS to books at your fingertips! I am a total book hoarder, but I realize that as much as I want us to own every book in the Berenstain Bears collection - it's just not going to happen.  The library lets you give your child access to books, without cluttering up your house or breaking your bank. In addition, the library lets you and your child explore a wide array of topics - ones that you may not even think are important! I can't tell you how many times I've grabbed interesting books from a display at the library, and have done a whole lesson or theme around it at home with baby bookworm.

3. Story time. Many libraries have free story times for children. The library we visit has an awesome one that includes books, songs, crafts, and playtime! "Story time" is what made learning to love books really easy for me, and I'm 100% positive that it's played a large role in my daughter becoming a "bookworm". Parents are frequently asking what they can do to help foster a love of books and reading in their children....well, frequenting story time is one easy recommendation.

4. Resources. The library can help educate you on early literacy. Sure, I'm trying to do that here on this blog...but those people the library employs called librarians can share a wealth of information! A child may not actually read until elementary school, but the literacy process begins way before that.

Plus, not sure what a 2 year old should be reading?  Your librarian can help. Not sure how to read with an infant?  I bet your librarian can help you with that one, too. Looking for a specific book? I'm sure the librarian has that one covered. Not sure how to go about selecting books for your child? You can read about how I do it here, or you can ask your wise librarian for some help.

Looking for some book and library-themed reading?  Here are a few books I recommend (click on the image for more info from Amazon):

  • Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn

  • I Like Books by Anthony Browne

  • Baby Bear's Books by Jane Yolen

  • D.W.'s Library Card by Marc Brown

  • Maisy Goes to the Library by Lucy Cousins

I'm sure not every kid who visits the library frequently like I did as a child will want to grow up writing a blog about children's books. But, they may discover a topic in a book so interesting to them that they'll want to devote a lifetime of learning about it - and that I think is the real beauty and value in books, and the place they often call home, The Library.

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