Libraries are so much more than walls and bookshelves. They’re community hubs, the stepping stone to early literacy, a venue to pursue a unique passion, and so much more.
I started taking my children to Infant Story time when they were babies. I needed to get out of the house, and the 30 minutes of singing and learning baby sign language let me connect with other parents, and allowed me a new way to learn and connect with my baby.
Since my kids are now 9 and 6, we’ve grown a lot since those days, but the library outings remain constant. Researching, picking up a new read before a long trip, attending programs, and taking advantage of take-home kits are only some of the ways we maximize our library experience.
Check out Books & More
Checking out books is an excellent way to give your child voice and choice in what they read. Even the most reluctant reader is bound to find a book to enjoy when visiting the library.
For something different try audio books (both books on CD and Wonderbooks) for children. My kids both love to listen to books during their rest time.
In addition to the vast book selection, you may also check out DVDs, learning kits, and toys!
Two tips for library visits when you’re low on time:
- Prior to your visit, search the library catalog. Put the books you want on hold, so they will be there waiting for you. You will not have to search for them.
- Many libraries have book bundles, organized by theme. So, if your child is a dino enthusiast, you can check out the entire book bundle (usually about 5 books) instead of searching for dinosaur books individually.
Free Educational Programs
The library has incredible free programming for all ages. My children have enjoyed STEAM lessons, LEGO club, Paws to Read, Pre-K story time, and more.
Not only do these programs benefit children, they’re great for caregivers as well, allowing adults to make connections with others in the same season of life. Additionally, the librarians who run the programs are knowledgeable about childhood development and literacy. I have learned so much from them – from the benefits of music and songs, to the reason why they use bubbles at the end of story time (children track the bubbles with their eyes and this is one of the first steps to reading!).
Many programs require registration and fill up quickly. I suggest checking the public library calendar a month ahead of time, and then setting a reminder when registration opens for the program you’d like to attend.
Beyond the Library Walls
Did you know you can check out a Nature Backpack from your local library? Inside the backpack are binoculars, guides for animal tracks, wildflowers, and more! The best part, though, is that these backpacks include free admission to all Virginia State Parks.
Tweens & Teens’ Library Usage
For older children, the library continues to be a place for learning support. If your child is in need of a quiet study space, consider reserving a quiet room at the library.
For those with a Kindle, or those who prefer listening to audio books, use the library’s app, Libby for free book downloads.
Another option for teens at the library is to become a part of making it great by volunteering. Opportunities like Read & Review are ideal for teens who love to read, and want to support the local library.
Whether taking your little one to story time for socialization and early literacy, or getting your teen ready to ace that test, the library has something for all ages.