|Front Lines of Literacy:
Make Your Kids Library Literate
by Lori L. Sikorski
The first of many golden leaves fell in our backyard yesterday. I watched as our seven-year-old scooped it up and brought it into the house. She laid it on the kitchen table and rummaged through a drawer in search of plastic wrap.
"Emmie, it's a bit early to begin pressing leaves," I suggested.
"I am making a book marker," she announced. "I want one with a leaf because there is so much reading to do this time of year." She continued to tape around the foliage.
Although we had read non-stop over the summer months, I knew exactly what she meant. Reading is somehow revived this time of year, whether sparked by the return to learning or by crisp evenings and early darkness that bring us indoors to settle in with a good read.
No wonder September has been named National Library Month. It is an open invitation to open a new book - or an old classic for that matter.
When was the last time you browsed in your local library? Checked out the new titles or used their reference sections? Do you and your family have library cards? It's a known fact that to encourage success in young readers, we adults have to set good examples. Let them see you enjoy using the library. Make a date to go at least twice a month together.
Plan on spending at least an hour or so on your first visit so that you can have time to fill out paperwork for your cards and enjoy some browsing time. Help your kids learn to locate books. Some libraries still have the card catalog system, while others have converted to computerized search engines. Ask one of the librarians for assistance.
Limit the amount of books you choose so your child doesn't feel overwhelmed. A bag of five or six books may seem like a chore to one so young. Let them select just a couple and explain to them that there is a time limit and the books must be returned by the date stamped inside.
It goes without saying that library books should have a special place in the home. A bag that hangs on the closet door will allow the child to locate their books without mixing them up with their own on shelves.
Remind them to respect their books from the library. As with any book, they are not to mark or draw on them. Place the date of return on your family calendar as a reminder to take them back.
Sign up for the special programs and activities that your local library has to offer. For pre-school children, there are delightful story hours that not only involve them in reading and learning at such an early age but also teach them about their local library.
Older kids enjoy the reading contests and newly formed book clubs.
Adults can sign up for computer classes, book clubs and discussion groups or literacy programs. Your local library has all such listings. You'll also find books on tape so you can read as you drive or do chores.
Make visiting your local library a family event not just during this special month but every month. You're sure to set great examples and have some reading fun, too.
-Contributing writer Sikorski is president of the Appeal School PTA and an avid family reader.
Editor's note: With "Make Your Kids Library Literate," the monthly Front Lines of Literacy begins its second year reporting on how our children learn to read.