Remember those “Your baby can read!” infomercials that were all the rage a few years ago? While it isn’t developmentally appropriate to expect infants and toddlers to learn to read, books are an important part of a child’s growth. To that end, it’s never too early to develop good library habits.
Literacy begins at birth. Babies are born ready to learn. All the experiences children have with conversation, verbal and nonverbal communication, storytelling, songs, books, and print promote early literacy. This helps build the skills needed for language, reading, and writing later.
These skills are built by allowing children to turn the pages of books and magazines, make up their own stories, talk about pictures in books, sing nursery rhymes, and tell stories.
Reading to children — which reduces stress, nurtures close relationships and builds a love of books — isn’t just for bedtime! Read at meal time, while you’re in waiting rooms, in the tub, and any other time when you can devote a few uninterrupted minutes to your child.
In addition, make going to your local library a Saturday morning routine. Pick out a batch of books to enjoy together throughout the week.
Here are some tips for developing good library habits:
- Start young. Getting babies and toddlers used to the library sets them up for a lifetime of appreciating its magic.
- Be considerate of others. If your child is disturbing others, remind her that she needs to use a “library voice” or quiet voice at the library. If she can’t quite settle down, take her outside for a walk until she is calm.
- Look for developmentally appropriate books, such as rhyming storybooks for younger children and chapter books for older children.
- However, allow children to follow their interests. Don’t deny your first-grader a book on airplanes intended for middle-schoolers if planes are his passion.
- Check out the library’s programs. Many branches have activities geared for every age from “mommy and me” infant and toddler story times to writing clubs for high school students. Even better? They’re usually free.
It’s never too late to encourage your child to be a reader. Ask the circulation desk if your child qualifies for his own library card. Even many a teen gets a thrill out of having his own card.
Does your family visit the library frequently? What makes your library time special?