Studies have routinely shown that young children who are read to at a young age have advantages in language and reading skills that others do not. This advantage carries over into the preschool and kindergarten years. This is also true as children get older—if they don’t have access to books or other reading materials, they don’t get a chance to practice the skills they are learning in school. Without being able to read books, magazines, comics, and newspapers that they choose on their own, many children do not develop a love of reading. They also suffer a loss of skills during holiday breaks and especially during the summer. But it can be cost-prohibitive to fill a shelf of books when your family is struggling to put food on the table.
As a teacher, I can understand both sides. I know how important it is for children to read. At the same time, I don’t get paid a whole lot, either. I have had to make the decision to buy a pair of pants for my growing child instead of a book before. It makes me feel like a terrible parent sometimes. However, I reminded myself of a place that my child can surround himself with all the books he wants, and bring some home—for free.
The public library is not just a place to spend a rainy day when there is no school or a place you go when you have a report due. A library is a great place for children of all ages. They can learn computer and research skills if they don’t have access to a computer or the internet at home by using the public computers available. They can read and check out all different kinds of materials: books, magazines, movies, CDs, comic books, newspapers, and even research materials. There are books on just about every subject and for all reading levels. Giving them the freedom to select reading materials on their own will encourage reading. It will boost not only their skills but their enjoyment of reading for the sake of reading. Remember that children who read on a regular basis do better in school.
If you aren’t sure where to start, introduce yourself to a librarian. These staff members are trained and knowledgeable in all things reading! They will get you set up with a library card and grant you access to the public computers. Talk to them about what you are interested in or what you need for an assignment. They can teach you how to search the catalog so that you can find the materials you want as well as show you where the books are located. They might even have some suggestions for books you will enjoy. Librarians also have the ability to special order items for you that may be at a different library or put a hold on something for you.When the item you want is returned, they willset it aside for you. They will also know of any library events scheduled that might fit your interests, from teen game nights to Mommy and Me storytimes. And all of these things are free!
The library is an excellent resource to help students develop their reading skills and indulge their interest in just about any topic. Your public library will have more materials than the school media center, and it stays open all year round. Take some time to check it out and see what the library can do for you.