exactly can you
expect if you take your young children to the library?
lot depends, of
course, on their ages. And
a lot depends on your local public library's resources. The best way to
find out is to visit your local public library and see what's
available. While library programs vary throughout the country,
there are several elements common to most children's services, as well
as some general trends in new programs.
libraries offered little
or nothing for very young children. But in the last two decades,
some libraries have even introduced programs for infants.
- In many states, new parents receive library
information kits through hospitals, adoption centers, and even prenatal
classes. These kits generally contain information on how to stimulate a
baby's language development through games, songs, and other activities.
They also include lists of books for babies, books on parenting, and,
course, the address and hours of the local library.
- A growing number of libraries invite
parents to bring in
their children - no matter how young - for special programs, such as
story hours. Sometimes, these are even scheduled in the evening
on weekends for working parents. Here parents can learn fingerplays,
rhymes, and other activities they can use at home to entertain and
libraries offer programs
designed for toddlers 18 to 36 months old.
- Depending on the
library, parents and child care
providers can participate with children in activities that may include
aloud, storytelling, fingerplays, rhymes, and songs. Because this age
a crucial time in the development of language skills, the value of
events lies as much in giving parents and child care providers ideas
stimulating and encouraging children's development as it does in
the time children
are 3 to 5 years of age,
they usually enjoy participating in group activities.
- Most libraries sponsor programs for this age group,
and parents generally do
not need to stay with their kids throughout these events. Popular
include reading aloud, storytelling, films, puppet shows, arts and
and reading programs. Frequently, reading programs offer some kind of
- perhaps a certificate or book - to children who have read (or
to) a specified number of books.
is also worth
noting that many libraries
now offer special training programs for child care providers and even
large groups of children from day care centers in for special programs,
such as storytelling and read-alouds. If you have children in child
encourage your provider or child's teacher to contact the local public
library to plan such activities (if there's a safe way to bring
children to the library). Exposure to books and to reading should
be an integral part of daily child care activities, and the public
is a very important resource available for developing and enriching
kinds of materials
available for checkout
for children (infants up to age 5) vary among libraries. There will
be hard cover books, board books, picture books, and often cloth books,
and magazines. The variety of subjects is tremendous, with everything
baby colors to bicycle basics, and from Bambi to keeping bugs in a jar.
When your children ask you endless questions about where they came from
why the sky is blue, chances are good there's a book at your library
answers they can understand. Or, if your children have favorite
subjects - whether dinosaurs or donkeys - you'll find lots of
books for them at the library.
also offer recordings
of children's stories and songs. Many also offer cassette tapes,
book/cassette kits, and even puppets and educational toys
local public library has to offer. You and your children may be
surprised. And the only thing it will cost you is some time