Most public libraries offer a wide variety of children’s books and magazines, with many in Spanish and other languages. In addition to printed materials, libraries often lend audiotapes and videocassettes of childrens’ books and movies, and more libraries are making computers available to the public. Many libraries also sponsor special programs, including children’s story hours, summer reading programs, and homework help. If your child has special needs, be sure to ask about services the library offers for the blind, the deaf, and those who are gifted or need remedial help. Many libraries have specially trained librarians for children. Feel free to ask them for help.
Here are some things you can do to introduce your child to the library:
- Include children–even toddlers–in trips to the library, and go often.
- As soon as you can, help your child get a library card.
- Borrow recordings of children’s stories and songs, cassette tapes, compact discs, videotapes, even puppets and educational toys.
- Find out if your library has computers and how your children can use them to learn or upgrade skills.
- Encourage your children to use the library to find information for their homework.
- Encourage your children to ask for help from you and the librarian in finding books and materials.
- Work with the librarian to teach older children how to find things in the library on their own.
- Teach your children how to take care of themselves in public places, especially if they use the library alone. Stress common sense guidelines for behavior in the library.
Become a Member
for young children
- Sign up for a library card yourself, and check out books to learn stories, songs, rhymes, and fingerplays to use at home to stimulate and encourage your child’s development.
- Get a library card or your child as soon as possible. (Some libraries will issue a card as soon as a child can write his or her name.)
- Encourage your child to check out books. This can encourage responsibility, too.
- Take your child to the library for special programs.
Get Into the Act
for elementary school children
- Get your child into reading programs at the library. Many children earn certificates or other awards for reading books through special library programs.
- Visit your children’s school library, meet the librarian, and see what it has to offer. Help out with any book fairs the school sponsors. You’ll learn a lot about children’s literature that way.
- Enroll your child in computer courses the library may offer.
for more advanced students
- Encourage your children to use the library for schoolwork. Help them determine if the library has the resources they need or if they need to check other information sources.
- Give your children encouragement, advice, and a ride if they need it, but resist the temptation to take over an assignment. Let your children be responsible for researching and writing reports.
- Check out the special services your library offers for helping students with school assignments, such as homework hotlines and term paper clinics.
- Build up your personal library by getting books for 50 cents or $1.00 at yard sales.
Information was based on Helping Your Child Use the Library. For more information, please contact the National Library of Education, 555 New Jersey Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20208, telephone 1-800-424-1616. Other materials from the Family Involvement Partnership for Learning–for families, schools, employers, and community groups–can be obtained by calling 1-800-USA-LEARN.