Get tips on visiting your local library this summer!
Published on June 11, 2021
By Mrs. Farnham (teacher, mom, CMoR member)
As the school year comes to a close, most kids are ready for a break and most parents need some structure. How about adding a weekly trip to your public library to your summer schedule? The Richmond area has lovely public libraries and joining your local library is free. Richmond City Public LIbraries, Henrico County Public Libraries, and Chesterfield Public Libraries all have generous reciprocity programs that allow you to get a card even if you don’t live in that specific area. For instance, a Richmond City resident can get a card for Henrico Libraries and visa versa.
Why Go To the Library?
I love going to the library with my kids for many reasons. First, it is a public space that is safe, indoors, and free. Next, going to the library allows kids to take ownership over their reading world as they pick books. Even my toddler loves to pick out books! Finally, your taxes pay for these lovely buildings and staff. Use them!
Why focus on reading this summer?
Kids who have access to books read more. This may seem simple, but kids need access to a wide variety of books. They need to experiment and try many different kinds of books to find where their interests lay. As with adults, kids struggle to read books that they aren’t interested in. Frequent library visits allow kids to experiment with different kinds of books with no commitment.
Younger children will both “read” on their own and love being read to. My toddler likes to look at the pictures and talk about them as his form of “reading.” He is proud of himself and developing important early literacy skills. Research shows that young children who are read to daily enter kindergarten with about a million more words than those who are not read to.
School-aged children need to practice their reading skills in a relaxed way over the summer. By allowing them to read for enjoyment, you are giving a gift that is often overlooked during the busy school year. Furthermore, kids often regress over the summer without practice on academic skills. Reading is an easy way to stay engaged in learning.
Tips for Going to the Library
Going to the library (especially with younger children) can be a daunting task. Here are a few tips that help us have successful visits:
-Ask your child what types of books or topics he/she would like to look for as you head to the library.
-Determine a consistent number of books your child is able to check out at each visit and stick to this limit (makes it much easier to keep track too!).
-If your child has shown an interest in a topic recently, get a short nonfiction book about it. For instance, my toddler was obsessed with alligators for a while so we would get nonfiction books to look at together. We would skip reading a lot of the content, but we loved talking about the pictures.
-If you are going on a trip, get a book that relates to your destination. I always check out books about shells when we go to the beach and then we use them to identify what we find.
-Try to get your child interested in a series. My toddler loves the Biscuit easy reader books and we always get a new one.
-Research good books for your kids. I use Instagram to look for new releases and new authors for my daughter. I have also started my own account to keep track of our recommendations if you are looking for some good books for school aged kids.
-For older kids, let their interests guide their selection. It is ok if he/she picks a book that you think is too hard/easy. Kids learn by experimenting and all reading is good reading. I ask my daughter to give a book a good try, but always allow her to return a book if she decides she doesn’t want to finish it. Reading should never feel like a punishment.
-Enroll your child in your library’s summer reading program. Each locality has their own program with prizes and activities. This can help motivate kids to keep reading! Here are links to some of the local programs Henrico, Richmond, Chesterfield
-Set up an organizational system at your house so you don’t lose books. Both of my children have bins in their rooms that hold their library books. This makes it easy for me to return books each week.
CMoR Book Bank
Did you know that CMoR has a Book Bank? CMoR collects gently used books and organizes them. Teachers and community members can request books for children who would benefit from owning their own book. As a teacher, I used the Book Bank every year to provide winter gifts to my students. They always loved the books they received. This month, the CMoR Book Bank is helping to restock Little Free Libraries in the Richmond Area in partnership with United Way. Consider donating your (very) gently used children’s books to the Book Bank in the future!