Teaching kids to love the library

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Libraries Transform, the theme for National Library Week, April 10 through 16, 2016, exemplifies how the library has always been regarded as a positive place of learning and reading, the hub and home for accessible information and entertainment that’s free to everyone with a library card.

So how do we pass the wonder and respect of our local libraries on to the next generation? One of the best ways to get young readers excited about going to the library is to create some “buzz.” Much like the buzz surrounding the hype of a new movie or the launch of a novel, parents can generate buzz by being excited themselves and creating a positive conversation around all the magic and intrigue the library can hold. Here are some creative ways to spur little imaginations and cultivate a love of books while visiting your local library.

Get to know your librarian
Librarians in film tended to be a cranky bunch that prowled the rows of books just looking for someone to shush. In reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Today’s librarian is kind, thoughtful and a walking, talking gold mine of valuable information and book love. Children’s librarians are also committed to helping spread the joy and wonder of books to our offspring through activities, games and junior book clubs.

Get familiar with your library’s programs and offerings
From reading therapy dogs and book clubs for kids to guest authors and even storytelling hours, there is always a lot going on at the library. Make it a habit to check your library’s event calendar each month; many libraries have online calendar options as well. Some libraries host classes and activities such as cooking, computer classes, nutrition and fitness training, composting or gardening workshops as well.

Create fun games
Sites such as LibraryGames.com and TeachersPayTeachers.com are full of silly games, creative questions and unique activities that spark interest, but also help young minds learn. Parents can create their own learning games by sending their kids on a (quiet) scavenger hunt or starting their own at-home reading challenge. Other fun “book-ish” ideas include finding all 50 states in book titles or playing “find the movie in a book form” to keep little minds busy.

Think outside the box
Libraries can come in many shapes and sizes, and that includes one that doesn’t require a library card, late fees or even operating hours! Little Free Libraries was created by Wisconsin resident Todd Bol as a tribute to his mother, a former teacher, who loved books and encouraged people to read. Bol built a mini library shaped like a schoolhouse, made it waterproof, filled it with books and added a sign that said Free Book Exchange. Bol then put it on a post outside of his house and invited neighbors to take a book and return a book. To date, there are Little Free Libraries all over the U.S. and the initiative has even spread overseas. Each Little Free Library is as unique as the individuals or families who create them, but all share the theme of exchanging good books and bringing people together via something positive like reading.

In this age of technology, gaming and online reading, libraries have not wavered in their devotion to reading and sharing that love with readers of all ages. For the younger generation, libraries have also recognized the need to “get with the times” and are now offering activities and options that reflect many families’ desires for technology, music and physical activity. Libraries today celebrate classic literary figures such as Curious George, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Pippi Longstocking alongside modern-day ones such as Where’s Waldo and even characters from Star Wars in their activities and storytelling. Another aspect of the library that hasn’t changed is that it is still free. For families seeking low-cost entertainment with an educational spin, the library is still the best deal around. HLM

Sources: frogsandsnailsandpuppydogtail.com, librariesforreallife.org, librarygames.com and littlefreelibrary.org.


Important Steps in Making the Most of your Library:

• Get a library card and make it a family affair.

• Visit other branches of the library in other communities for a fun mix of ideas and activities.

• Explore other areas of the library. Libraries offer more than books and many also offer movies, audiobooks and magazines for all ages.

• Lead by example; if parents are excited and enthusiastic about visiting the library, their children will follow suit. The healthy reading habit extends beyond the walls of the publics library as well. Let your children catch you reading and discover how to develop a zest for learning and a lifelong love of reading for themselves.

• Teach your kids how to find their own books using the library’s media. From old-school Dewey decimal system to modern digital cataloguing, encouraging young readers to research and seek out their own books can be part of the adventure.