You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. —Dr. Seuss, Oh the Places You'll Go!
When I taught young children and worked with their families, I knew how important it was that parents read to their children, so one of the questions I often asked was, "Do you take your child to the library?" Many said no. What about you? If you haven't been to a library in a while, you should choose to steer yourself and your child to one as soon as you can. And you'll see that they've changed.
For one thing, there are cozy, inviting places to sit and read with your child; in one library I recently visited in San Diego, California, there was a section that looked like a boat; in another in Austin, Texas, there was a jungle. What fun places for children to explore!
Many libraries offer wonderful programs for young children throughout the year. These can range from Lego learning to learning music to learning another language. There's often a Story Time with special guests or even Scavenger Hunts. Many have sections with games, puzzles, and computers. The education technology company I work with, Age of Learning, offers their ABCmouse.com online early learning curriculum for free at all U.S. public libraries. Children can log on with one of the library computers and have age-appropriate, interactive picture books read to them, or choose other learning activities.
Libraries give all children access to these and other wonderful oral language vocabulary experiences, including engaging picture books, which are especially important in the early stages of children's lives.
When I go to the library with my grandchildren, I notice that they are learning how to responsibly take care of books that are borrowed and also learning how to keep track of their books to turn them back in. They also are excited about the reading log that the library keeps for them, and they love to work for reading prizes as they are learning wonderful vocabulary and enjoying stories.What can you do with your young child at the library?
- Choose a fun book and sit with your child and enjoy it.
- Attend a special event, like Lego Building, Story Time, or Board Games.
- Invite grandparents to come along and make it an intergenerational time! Ask grandma or grandpa to read a book to the child.
- Find a book on nursery rhymes and enjoy the many patterns of language (for example, Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young, by Jack Pelutsky and Marc Brown).
- Plan some quiet time everyday to enjoy your books, such as after bath, or just before bedtime.
- Enjoy family reading time when each family member reads his or her own book. Showing that YOU enjoy reading is just as important as reading to your child.
- Sit with your child and share a short book, such as My Mom by Anthony Boone.
- Read a book and have your child act it out (for example, Jump, Frog, Jump by Robert Kalan).
- Read fiction books so that children can enjoy and learn about make-believe (for example, Mrs. Wishy-Washy by Joy Cowley and Honey... Honey...Lion! by Jan Brett).
- Read non-fiction books so that young children can learn more about the world around them (for example, ABC Oceans by the American Museum of Natural History and Bread, Bread, Bread by Ann Morris).
Enjoy the library experience with your family as you steer your children toward memories that will last a lifetime.