By Patti Hermes

 

 

“Can we go to the library today?” How many parents would love to hear those words? Yet, in many families, those are typical of daily conversations. But rather than sitting back and wishing you were a “library family”, let's look at how we got here, and how you, too can become regulars at the library.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It began when they were babies. No, wait, it really began back when I was growing up. Let me check, maybe it goes back even further, to when my parents were growing up. Back then it was a luxury for any family to actually buy books, so the regular trip to the library was standard in any community that had one.

 

So that's the easy way to become a library family, generations of habit. But for those who have fallen out of the habit, your local library is making every effort within their budgets to draw in new families. Starting with the very young, library story time is as basic as you can get. And yet, generation after generation keeps coming back. Programs can vary from one library to another, and larger libraries are likely to have several story time programs with different age groups and even themes and crafts to reinforce the stories. But it all comes down to most children of all ages love to hear stories.

 

Of course, there's more to the library than just story time. While most programming is geared toward getting kids to read a variety of books, we've attended just-for-fun presentations such as a traveling balloon magician, puppet shows, participated in the annual Dia de los Muertes mask making, and Lego Club. Just this past fall was the Haunted Halloween lock-in where my tweens thought they were too cool to be scared by the librarians they'd known since they were babies, but they admitted it was way more fun than they had anticipated.

 

Plenty of libraries run essay contests from time to time, and our local library found that a mystery short story contest brought far more budding writers out of the woodwork. A friend I know started a Mother Daughter Book Club at her local library, complete with art projects, drama and field trips. Other on-site activities include art exhibits, writing clubs for both young and old, reading buddies, therapy dog visits (they like to be read to, too!), stitching clubs, genealogical societies and lots of volunteer opportunities. Being situated downtown, our local library is also perfectly located to participate in the myriad downtown festivals that are held periodically throughout the year.

 

But what brings the kids back, day after day? Getting to know the librarians, making a habit of saying hello and chatting about new books and especially asking for help in finding the books they need, either for schoolwork or just for their own interests. The collections also keep them interested. Besides books, comic books, magazines, graphic novels, there are also movies on DVD, music Cd’s and now even games for their Xbox, Wii or PlayStation game systems.

 

One way to start a new library habit is to pick a day and put it on the calendar. Go every week at the same time, even plan to meet friends there. Make sure to take out a book or two for yourself, as well, and enjoy them. The library can open a whole new world, in which everything is not on the internet, even though they can probably use the computers there, too!

 

Patti Hermes

Patti Hermes is living the dream with her high school sweetheart, raising their boys in the Midwest because it's a good starting point for epic road trips. While writing, reading and homeschooling take up most of her time, she still blogs at http://writesforchocolate.blogspot.com.

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