15 April 2010 11:42 AM

Kids and Libraries

by Dr. Rick

We’ve discussed lots of reading topics during March, literacy month, including chapter books, kids’ interviewing skills, and reading aloud to kids.  Today, let’s visit the “temple of literacy,” the library, as we celebrate National Library Week (April 11 – 17).


Regular readers of the Dr. Rick Blog know that I’m a great advocate of libraries.  School libraries, public libraries, private home libraries, even – or, I should say, especially – the storybook libraries in kids’ rooms.


Public libraries are particularly great places to encourage a lifelong love of reading.  The earlier we can encourage our kids to use libraries, the better.  They’re free, they’re a great “field trip” for families, and they build confidence from the first time a child gets her very own library card.


Here are some thoughts about kids, families, reading, and libraries.

  1. The best libraries are fun, educational, and stimulating.  Most libraries have a children’s section, and the best libraries understand their responsibility to help parents and teachers instill a love of reading in children.  These special places include children’s rooms, toys, story times, song-singing crafts, and interesting posters and artwork.  (For a particularly impressive example, check out the Baltimore County Public Library’s children’s learning facility, “Storyville.”  Kids love it.  There are opportunities for infants and toddlers to kindergartners to hear stories, cook, build, draw, crawl, and learn their phonics skills.)

  2. Libraries give you a valuable experience with your kids.  Teach your child how to browse through the books and other media your library offers.  Show him how you select books for your special purposes – books that show you how to do something, books that teach you something, books that are fun to read for pleasure.

  3. Let your kids have their own library cards.  Remember when you got your first library card as a child?  For most of us, it was the first ID card we ever had, a real sign of being grown up.  It was tangible proof that we know how to read, that we could be trusted, and that we had mastered a public grown-up space.

  4. Libraries allow us to give the gift of lifelong reading.  The habits of mind we encourage now, when our kids are young, are the ones with the most chance of “taking hold” later in life.  When we show our kids that we read, that we go to libraries with some regularity, that reading is an important part of our lives, we let them know that reading is more than just a subject in school.

  5. The books they choose create opportunities for read-aloud time at home.  Kids love being read to, and bedtime reading is an ideal and healthy routine.  Bedtime reading calms us down, gives us a time to reflect on the day, gets us ready for sleep, and gives us a good story to boot!

  6. Learn grown-up skills from libraries.  Kids learn about organization, sharing (we rent these books, after all), and book care.  They learn alphabetical order and cataloging of books.

  7. Learn literacy skills.  Kids learn listening skills, reading skills, and different genres –kinds – of reading materials.  Literature, history, fiction, reference.  Poetry helps young kids with their phonemic awareness skills – learning that letters make sounds and sounds make words.  (Dr. Seuss books are especially good for this.)

  8. Learn about books.  Kids learn about the different parts of books, too.  Title, introduction, table of contents, author, illustrator, publisher, and publication date will become familiar to them and helpful to them in English class later.

  9. Learn how to find information.  Kids learn that reference skills mean a whole lot more than merely knowing how to Google something.  Especially for older kids, libraries contain treasures of information, discoveries, and new interests.

  10. Learn social skills.  Libraries foster “good neighbor” values like sharing, concern for other people’s needs (like a certain amount of quiet), taking good care of books, returning them promptly, and sharing favorite stories.




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