Thursday, June 4, 2009

Why we love the library (and you should too)

Books introduce your children to a world of excitment and learning. They entertain, teach, and fill your child with wonder and creativity. So a building full of free books is a wonderful place indeed! Whether you have your own collection of books or not, you're always going to find something new and engaging at the library. Here's a few things you should know are available at your library:

1. Board Books- Although our current library has very few, your library should have bins or a small bookshelf with board books to check out for your toddlers who are still pretty hard on books. These are the only library books I leave out, the paper-paged books are hidden in the closet so my toddler won't tear them. Great way to introduce your baby to the wonderful world of books!
2. Storytime- Your library probably has a storytime available at least weekly. Some libraries even have several for different age groups. A librarian picks a weekly storytime theme, reads stories, sings songs with the kids and does fingerplays, and provides an activity/craft at the end. Our librarian is fabulous and goes all out with decorations, dresses up and gets the kids participating with a smile! Call your library or go on their website to find out when yours is. Or if you have several libraries in your area, check all of them to find the day that works best for you. Your library may offer special events during storytime too like puppet or magic shows or holiday specials like an egg hunt for Easter. Check for a calendar or e-mail sign-up.
3. Movies- We never rent movies anymore. The library has lots of kids, family, and grown-up movies to check out. They offer a lot of educational movies too like the "Signing Time" videos my daughter loved or videos taht taught Spanish. We've checked out popular Disney movies, classics, new releases, exercise videos, and TV series at our library.

4. Music, Read-Alongs, and Books on tape/CD- Unforunately we have a small library now and our CD and read-along selection is very limited but when we were in Vegas we used to check out a few kids CD's every week and listen to them driving around in the car. At home I'd pop in a read-along (book with tape) for my kids when I was too busy to read to them myself. Lately I've been getting story tapes and CD's for my kids to listen to when they go to bed. Fun quiet activity and great way to boost your child's reading comprehension. You can also find these items for adults too. Get your cleaning done while someone reads to you or try some new music.
4. Miscellaneous- Depending on the size of your library you may have other materials for check out. Our last library had Leap Pad books and cartridges along with Leap Pad systems to check out seperately and Hooked on Phonics games. Tour your library, ask the librarian, or check online to see what's available at your local library.

5. Reserving Items- Ask your librarian for an online PIN number for your library card. You can use this PIN number on the library's website to place items on hold for yourself. So from your computer at home you can search for your favorite story titles or movies from not only the library you visit but all the libraries in the area, put in a request for that item, and they will send it to your library and you just have to pick it up at the front desk. This way you have more materials available to you and have to spend less time finding them. I use this to get books appropriate for my duaghter's reading level and to find the most loved titles. Find a reading list from the library website or other source that will give you the best titles and/or splits them into reading levels and put these titles into your searches.

6. Summer Reading Programs- Libraries offer summer reading programs that offer prizes for reading, fun activities and special events. Register at your library to get a reading log and list of events. This isn't just for readers, they count kids who are read to as well.

Hope this is helpful! Reading really is a great activity for your children and it's never too early to get them excited about it. How many of you use the library (or plan to after reading this)? Is there something about your library that you've enjoyed? Any other tips I've left out here?