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Using Your Public Library to Help Grow Your Child's Love For Books

March 18, 2021

My toddler is probably the most inspiring and exuberant human I've ever met... there are his words, and his dance moves that are so perfectly in cue with the beat, there is his love of running as quickly as he can and jumping in place while hooting with glee.

He is enjoying his body and all the ways he can move and express himself with it all. 

As his parents, all of this has been so incredible to watch emerge and take shape over the past two years, and what an incredible journey it has been for my husband and me, to be growing right alongside our first child.

Since his birth, our boy's voice has been a joyful constant in our home, and over the last year his thoughts, wants and needs are being shared through words that have in recent months become sentences. Each day there is more to share, as his words and excitement give way to being recognized and responded to within our own family, and by the adults and older children, we spend our time with.

COMMUNITY STORYTIME HOURS
My husband and I are avid readers ourselves and have followed our son's lead and his love of books from early on. Our local library hosts fantastic cruisers-and-crawlers, toddler & children's storytime hours and sing-alongs that are free to the community and are scheduled throughout the week. Each group meets separately and focuses on developing early literacy skills and supporting a child's natural curiosity and love of books. The groups are facilitated by a librarian who focuses on books and activities that are developmentally appropriate and that are also incredibly fun. In cruisers-and-crawlers, we sang songs together and played with the sounds of individual letters, vowels and built them up into words. We were introduced to a wide range of vocabulary and illustrations through the carefully chosen books. Books, which our lovely librarian pointed out, are an ideal way to bring an unlimited variety of words, ideas and sounds into a family's playful learning. She introduced to us books that featured animals, people and situations that were uncommon for most people's daily life, but that introduced us to some wonderful fundamentals of the wider world; that chicks emerge from eggs and that there is indeed an animal named "hippopotamus" that can walk on land and swim underwater.

In this youngest group, our babies would intently watch our mouths as we sounded out new words and sang songs together. There was so much learning packed into these hours of fun, and outside of being a relatively easy outing for my son and me when we were still getting the hang of leaving the house together, we were also spending time playing and learning with other families and building our community.

Look to your community library for programs and activities that they may offer. Libraries are eager to have families searching their shelves for books to check out and to enjoy at home. And if your local library does not currently host family programs, ask if they can meet your requests for storytimes that are led either by librarians or community volunteers. If you run up against tight budgets or scheduling issues, ask if your family, and others who are interested, can meet within the library and create your own storytime. Each family can then take turns choosing books and leading to the group.

VARIETY OF BOOKS
Toddlers and adults alike are curious creatures, and while reading the same two books over and over again is a phase every toddler goes through, your local library is an amazing resource for fresh visuals and new words to get you and your toddler excited.
Going for the classic fairytales in different versions, educational (age-appropriate) encyclopedias, or looking up the author of your child's favorite book to find more of what they already like are all great ideas. You can even let your toddler pick out something they find exciting.
My husband and I have enjoyed bringing home our childhood favorites to share with our son and looking for new books to read together.

In recent years, the publication of children's books has skyrocketed, with topics reaching far and wide. Your own family's favorites are on a shelf just waiting to be enjoyed together.