The Public Library: Better Than Ever for Kids
One of my fondest childhood memories was going to the library. I never had a lot of spending money, and didn’t own many books. But I loved to read, and the library was within walking distance. I’ll never forget the thrill of carrying home as many books as I could manage, all mine—at least for two weeks. The love of reading has been passed down to my four-year-old granddaughter, and she and I have spent many happy hours in the library, which is a lot more child-friendly than it used to be. As much as I loved it there, kids in the past were often admonished with a, “Shhhhh!” Today’s librarian is more likely to say, “Come join us!”
If your kids like crafts, the library is the place to be. Most provide materials for free. We’ve made necklaces, masks, dream catchers, volcanoes, and clay fossils. There are also puppet shows, magic acts, and plays performed by older kids.
Library summer programs offer a variety of activities for children of all ages, from live animal shows, music, and art, to computer clubs and planting a garden. Ours even shows a family movie once a month.
Adults are not forgotten! In addition to book clubs, writers’ groups, local author events, and free museum passes that may be borrowed. Our library’s bounty includes The Boston Museum of Science, The New England Aquarium, and The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Check to see what your local library offers.
But even with all that today’s libraries have to offer, story time is one of my granddaughter’s favorites. The books are either presented on a CD, or read aloud by one of the librarians. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the kids actually prefer being read to, rather than hearing it with all the bells and whistles (literally) on a CD! There’s something magical that transpires between the reader, whose tone of voice and facial expressions enhance the story, and her young audience.
At the end of the day, comes the best part of all: choosing books to take home. For younger children, this teaches what borrowing and sharing are all about. Older kids learn what community means, what’s provided for them, and how they can contribute to it.
So check out your local library. It has more to offer than ever, and chances are good that no one will “shush” you!
What have your kids discovered at the library?
Photo: Shirley Library