I learned to print my name almost before I could read it, for the sole purpose of getting my own library card. I was so young I had to stand on tiptoes to see over the check-out desk and hand the librarian my application. When the librarian, in turn, handed me a library card with my own name on it, not my mother or father’s, I was ecstatic! I literally wore out the card in a few months, off and running toward becoming a lifelong reader, recognizing the role the library played in my becoming a book lover.
Here are five good reasons to take your children to the library today:
Regular library visits inevitably lead to more reading, and reading, as it turns out, is brain food!
Research shows that reading actually aids in brain development, especially in your child’s first five years of life. When kids are read to, their brain cells are literally turned on, and existing links among brain cells are strengthened and new cell links are formed. Reading is also one of the best activities to provide the foundational language and literacy skills your child needs to succeed. Let’s not forget how reading aloud connects us — reader and listener — in a very intimate way. When we read to aloud to kids, we send them this message: You are important! This time is for you!
When you visit the library, you can expose your children to more books and magazines than you can afford to buy.
Sure, you can take your kids to the children’s section of a nearby bookstore — and you should! But if you’re like most of us, you’re on a budget and you have to cap their spend. At the library, you can haul out as much as you can carry, turn your books back in as soon as they’re read, and take home a whole new pile. Not only that, the “casual discovery” nature of a library — browsing the stacks without pressure to buy — allows kids to be serendipitous. There’s no predicting what might catch their fancy, but, whatever it is, they can “test drive” it at low risk.
Your local librarian can recommend books that you may not know of or think to suggest, broadening their tastes and expanding their minds and vocabularies.
Some young readers may be rough-and-tumble or car-obsessed, not to mention the kids who love space, nature or whatever’s trending! You can start a home library full of books about whatever makes their wonderous little minds sparkle. But it will be your librarian who introduces them to new and amazing things.
Library time is active, not passive.
Maybe in your mind the library is an eerily quiet place with lots of shushing. But today’s youngest library patrons engage — with books and magazines, with librarians, and with other kids. Most libraries offer regular children’s programs that make stories come to life. Think puppets, costumes, and animated storytellers. And often this magic happens in cozy corners where kids flop down on big pillows and bean-bag chairs.
Owning a library card teaches kids responsibility.
As card-carrying library patrons, young kids learn about treating with care things that belong to others. When a kid checks out books in their own name, they feel trustworthy. They feel responsible. They feel more like a member of their community. A child’s first library card is an early rite of passage. So get your child a library card — and underscore its importance. Take a photo of the moment. Go out for ice cream to celebrate. Even better, go home and open a book.