- Sometimes I think we become afraid of challenges and the potential of failure, especially with reading. I hear the phrase “that book’s too hard for you” an awful lot. If you say that: ask yourself why you’re saying that. Unpack the statement and challenge yourself about it.
- The journey to literacy has to start somewhere. Everything’s been too hard for a child once upon a time – but they haven’t stopped. I acknowledge the potential of putting somebody off – but, that book’s been picked up for a reason. Maybe this time work through the illustrations together, or use it as a bed time story. Don’t make the book a source of intimidation.
- Hard books become easy books. Help that happen.
- Make sure you have more time to spend in the library than you think you need, and conversely, be prepared to leave early if things aren’t working out for either of you. Come back tomorrow. There’s still time.
- Don’t make reading A Thing That We Fight About And Talk About In Capital Letters. If it’s becoming a flash point, time out. Step back.
- Acknowledge how much reading your child really does. I suspect that we forget this, but reading isn’t just about books. It’s about shopping labels, instructions, video games, it’s about the language that’s embedded in our everyday world. So if the library is a place where neither one of you want to be, that’s fine (for today, not forever, you get back there asap please 😉 ).
- Make the most of the textual resources you have at your disposal. Read those. Help your child master the texts that are already in their world.
- Don’t be scared of the library. I get that libraries are scary places. I’ve been put off a few in my time. But here’s the thing : they are your space. You are welcome in this space, it is here for you, and if you’re scared or nervous there, than your child will get that.
- Model the behaviours that you want your child to see. Perform the associations that you want them to have with a space. Kids are savvy, savvy creatures. If the library is a place where you’re not comfortable, then they will know and they will consciously or unconsciously react to that. Fake it until you make it. Make the library space somewhere where they will choose to be. Why would they want to go if you don’t?
- Pick up a book yourself. Non-fiction, fiction, poetry, whatever.Bring it home and read it in front of the child. Read obviously. Weave books into the world. Make books something that the child will see
- Don’t be afraid of books. Ask for help if you need it. Seriously.
- If you don’t know what your child should or could be reading, ask one of the librarians. Ask them about the most popular authors. Look at the gaps on the shelves. Head to the books that the other children your child’s age do. It’s a rough guide, yes, but sometimes we need those rough guides where we don’t know where to begin.
- Encourage your kids to talk about reading and books. Ask them if this is the breakfast cereal that a Gruffalo would eat. Tell them you spotted Gangsta Granny on the way to school.
- Get your kid involved in the library. Come up to the desk with them if you can’t find what you’re after. Get the child involved in the conversation. Reserve books that the child actively asks for. Allow them the time for a long chat with the librarian.
- Let the child babble about books. Don’t cut them off. There is nothing better in the world than children who are almost breathless with love over a book. Passion is such a driver. Allow the time for those conversations to happen. They are perfect, perfect moments.
- Pat yourself on the back every once in a while. You’re doing so much better than you think you are at this. You really, really are. I have such admiration for you. Keep it up.
2 thoughts on “16 ways to help yourself and your child make the best of your public library, books and reading”
I’d recommend children’s activities at the library. I went with my son to a craft/story session every week when he was a toddler so he never had any sense of libraries being intimidating.
Yep, that’s an excellent point! Craft sessions are brilliant things. Thank you 🙂