Summer Bucket List: #5 – Head to your local library!

By: April Lukasik

Though its function has changed quite a bit over the years, the local library still plays an important role in shaping your child’s relationship to reading and books. Whether you live in a small town or a sprawling urban area, your local library offers your whole family benefits that go far beyond books.

Regular library visits lead to more reading.

Research shows that reading actually aids in brain development. When you read to your children (especially in their first five years of life), their brain cells are literally turned on, existing links are strengthened, and new ones are formed.

Reading is also fundamental to providing foundational language and literacy skills your child needs to succeed. In addition, reading aloud connects the reader and listener in a very intimate way. When we read aloud to kids, we send them a message that they are important.

Visiting the library exposes kids to an almost limitless supply of books.

Books can be expensive, especially hardcover ones. If you’re like most of us, you’re on a budget and need to put a limit on how much you can spend. Let’s face it — kids outgrow books almost as fast as clothes or shoes. Their tastes change and their reading skills increase.

Don’t get us wrong — you can and should take your children to the bookstore to let them pick out books. Going to the library offers them a chance to choose from hundreds or even thousands of titles. You can check out as many books as you’d like, and then come back when you’re done for a new pile.

The library also allows kids to expand their repertoire. There’s no pressure to buy, so they can “test drive” a new author or genre that they might not have picked before.

Think of the librarian as your own personal book expert.

It’s their job — literally. Children’s librarians have a pulse on the hottest authors and titles in the juvenile literary world and can suggest stories that might be out of your child’s norm.

Like the bookstore, many libraries include a “Bestseller” section for both kids and adults.

The library has so much more than just books.

Most libraries offer tons of free education and entertainment, for all ages. The list varies from town-to-town, but some we’ve seen include family movie nights, after-school programs, STEM clubs, knitting circles, genealogy classes, Lego building sessions, and much more. Many libraries also offer free or discounted passes to local museums. Your library is a treasure trove of things to do.

In addition, the children’s section in most libraries is not a place for shushing and silence. Most young library patrons are encouraged to interact — through play, with books and magazines, on computers and tablets, etc. It’s not uncommon to see kids curled up in cozy corners on over-sized pillows and bean bag chairs, reading a book or listening to an e-reader.

Owning a library card teaches kids responsibility.

When a child has their own library card, they feel trustworthy, responsible and mature. They learn to treat things that belong to others with care. They learn about sharing books and being a member of a community. A child’s first library card is a rite of passage.

So get your child a library card — and underscore its importance. Take pics of the occasion. Go out for ice cream to celebrate.

And then, go home and open up a book!

Create your own Summer Bucket List with this printable PDF.
There’s plenty of room for you to brainstorm fun ideas with your family. But most importantly – don’t forget to have fun!