The Daily Times, Lindsay Pierce/AP

Introducing Kids to the Library

June 25, 2010
by Lindsey Chapman
A wide variety of books is important for raising a happy reader, but it’s not always easy to have everything kids want to read on hand. In honor of Library Week, findingDulcinea offers advice on taking a trip to the library.

Getting Ready for A First Visit to the Library

Libraries are characteristically known for their deafening silence, but if your home isn’t exactly quiet, that’s not a reason to avoid them altogether. Knowing what to expect when you arrive at the library (and how to get your children ready beforehand) depends largely on their ages.

Children’s librarian Serena Butch says not all libraries expect complete silence anymore. “From child-sized chairs and comfortable nooks to puzzles, games and age-appropriate books, we’ve made real efforts to make the children’s room a friendly, appealing space,” she explained.

For very young kids, PBS suggests explaining to them that the library is a place where people go to learn and borrow books. Have them pick a subject they enjoy, or a particular cartoon character, and seek out relevant books after arriving at the library.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development offers kids an animated tour of a library, illustrating the various activities they will be able to do there.

For Beginning and Developing Readers

“It is very important to find well-written books for your children,” when they are 7 to 9 years old, the Department of Education states, and finding such resources at the library can help them not only enjoy visiting there, but instill an appreciation for reading as well.

If you’re in need of ideas for great books for younger children, Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), the nation’s “oldest and largest children's and family nonprofit literacy organization,” has a helpful list of easy reads available for your kids, including ABC books, picture books, concept books and more.

But like the puzzles for younger children, libraries offer more than books for older readers. Many have story hours for kids, and some even feature summer reading activities. In some cases, kids can give presentations, discuss books or participate in creative writing seminars, as well. These activities can help keep kids interested in the library throughout childhood.

Libraries and Teenagers

It might seem that as kids get older and their volume of homework grows, visiting the library and reading for pleasure would lose some appeal. For this age group, many libraries have stepped outside the norm again, offering magazines and multimedia resources to interest them.

But for parents hoping their kids actually will pick up a book, make sure to encourage them to go to the young adult section for literature specific to their age group.

Looking to find some great teen books ahead of time? offers interviews from teen book authors, book reviews and an “Ultimate Teen Reading List” with recommendations on some of the best novels out there.

Home Libraries

If one of your goals for promoting literacy is to build your family library at home, RIF has a few pointers.

The size and cost of a family library is not as important as the quality and variety of books available, the organization explains. Speak with your children about the books they enjoy reading and subjects they want to learn about and stock up on those. “A small collection of books, thoughtfully gathered over time, is better than a large collection that goes unread.”

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