Monday, January 9, 2012

This week: Libraries

"Put away your credit card and get out your library card."
-Golinkoff & Hirsch-Pasek in Einstein Never Used Flashcards

This week we're talking books here on the blog.  Reading to and with your child is the best thing you can do to prepare them for school (hmm, that sounds like familiar advice...), and libraries are your community partner.   Did you make new year's resolutions such as
  • more quality family time, at home or out in the community
  • read to your kids more (or read more yourself)
  • get in tune with your child's academic development
  • spend less money on things for the kids
  • spend less money on going out for enterainment
  • spend less money renting movies
  • expose your child to more of the arts?
Yep, the library can help with all of that.  From regular storytimes to special music and theater events, the Nashville area libraries (and those in most other cities) have a ton of high-quality free programming.  We'll spotlight some of these later in the week, but today the focus is on the books. 

Building a home library is important. Kids need to have books that belong to them to read and re-read over and over again.  But the reality is that exposure to a wide range of fiction and non-fiction is highly enriching, and purchasing every book that your child might possibly want to read would cost a small fortune.  Starting a weekly library routine is an excellent way to rotate the books in your house. 

In many libraries the children's department will have lists of suggested books for different age and grade levels.  Consider taking these lists on as a challenge to complete.  We have posted a list of some of our personal favorites over on the right. 

When choosing books to bring home, a nice formula is as follows
  • one your child can "read" to you (this can even include wordless books for a toddler to describe to you),
  • one that rhymes (Dr. Seuss is always a winner, but there are many other choices, too),
  • one that is true (a book about animals, nature, history, science, geography,--anything nonfiction),
  • a great storybook (or two) with good illustrations to read to or with your child,
  • and something you have checked out before.
While you are there, take time to really look around.  Many libraries have collections of art, toys, and historical artifacts that kids find very interesting.  Also look for info on upcoming classes and programs, as these (usually free) programs are some of the hidden jewels in the community.

Need some motivation?  One summer we kept count of all the books we read together, with the promise that we would do something once we hit 100.  We only made it to 50 (hello, reality check), but celebrated anyway with on ice cream outing, with a commitment to keep reading and celebrating along the way.  Many libraries offer summer reading programs with rewards to keep kids interested.

This isn't just kid stuff, by the way.  Studies show that children in homes where parents read regularly and there is a lot of printed material around do better in school.  See this article to learn more.
So while you are there be sure to pick up something for yourself, too.

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