Anyone who knows me also knows that I’m a book nerd. My parents read to me from the time I was a baby, and I can’t remember reading not ever being a huge part of my life. And don’t get me started on libraries! I distinctly remember getting my own library card and how proud I was of that little piece of laminated cardboard. I always knew that when I became a mother, I would do my best to foster a love of reading in my children, establishing the value and importance of books in our home. Reading to your kids— early and often— is an incredibly vital part of laying the foundation for literacy, as well as establishing a lifelong love of reading. And your local public library can help! This year, April 8-14th marks National Library Week, an observance created by the American Library Association to highlight and promote the services libraries provide to the communities they serve.
Here are four fun ways to celebrate National Library Week and embrace what your public library has to offer:
1. Sign up for a library card. Aside from thousands of free books, audiobooks, DVDs, and CDs, most local public libraries also offer free access to OverDrive and Hoopla, two great platforms for digital media including eBooks, magazines, and movies. TumbleBook Library features online animated, talking picture books. Familiarize yourself with the services your library offers and take advantage of these free and oftentimes invaluable resources. Additionally, a weekly library visit is a great way to introduce new books to your kids, and anyone who has experienced the single-mindedness of a toddler who wants to only read the same three books on repeat will appreciate having fresh reading material for their budding bookworm. I also love requesting specific titles via the online catalog so that they’re ready for me to check out when I get to the library.
2. Attend story time. These are tailored to specific age groups, from babies to older kids. Both of my kids are completely at home at our local public library (for better or for worse, depending on the day) and basically view the inimitable Ms. Korie as
the mother they wish they had The World’s Best Story Time Librarian. Check your local branch for days and times and introduce your kids to the joys of shaky eggs, fun songs, and listening to new books. Most public libraries also offer movie screenings, craft and STEM projects, and culture/art appreciation events for kids.
3. Sign up for 1000 Books Before Kindergarten. Most Dallas-area libraries participate in this national program designed to promote early literacy in children. The goal is for each child to have read 1000 books with their parents or caregivers before they enter Kindergarten. My library provides a starter kit and reading logs to track the books you read, as well as prizes when the child reaches 200, 400, 600, 800, and 1000 books. To see if your local public library participates, go here. And if it doesn’t, you can still sign up on the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten site. Side note: most of my friends ask me if you’re allowed to read the same books. Most definitely, yes! And it really doesn’t take as long to reach a thousand books as you might think.
4. Use National Library Week as an opportunity to say thank you. Maybe you and your family are already die-hard fans of your local (or school) library. Great! Then I would encourage you show your appreciation. Bake cookies as a family and deliver them to the staff. Have your kids make a thank you card for their favorite librarian. Librarians are the lifeblood of our libraries and these incredibly helpful souls work hard to provide great materials and programs for our communities.