This may be one of my favorite posts, because the library is one of my FAVORITE places. I love going to tutor at the library and being at arms reach of so many great books and resources. I often roam the library before and after tutoring sessions stacking up books to check out. I love exploring different topics through books from the library, knowing that the only thing that I invested in the book is the time I spent reading it.
I always highly recommend frequent trips to the library to all my students and their families. Library trips help foster a deep love of reading and knowledge in children, no matter their reading level.
I often get questions from parents and other caregivers about library visits. Below are some of the questions I get most frequently along with my response.
"What should we do when we visit the library?"
First, check out LOTS of books! Children's books can be expensive, especially when kids change their interests and reading level every month. Frequenting the library can keep your home filled with new and interesting books all year round for $0 (unless you have library fines). Roaming the library and choosing books to read will help your child develop a love of reading.
"But how do we know what books to pick out for my child's reading level?"
It may be tempting to limit what your child picks out to read based on their reading level. I strongly encourage you to let your child pick whichever books they find interesting. Some of the books they select may require your assistance when they are reading, but the challenging books will also help your child push their reading skills to the next level. If your child selects a book that is too "easy" they can still gain practice from being able to master and read the book fluently.
Though I encourage not restricting book selection, I do suggest that you make sure your child selects a few books that they are able to read independently. A good way to gauge whether a book is at your child's reading level is to do the "five finger test". Have your child open the book to a random page and read. For every word that your child can't read have them hold up one finger. If they get to five fingers or above, the book may be too difficult for them. If your child holds up less than five fingers the book is a good fit for reading independently.
"What if my child has a hard time picking books that they are interested in?"
I would highly suggest enlisting the help of your librarian. Librarians are the best at figuring out what your child is interested in and coming up with book suggestions based on interests and age. Librarians have a lot of knowledge on what is popular or well loved by certain age groups, genders and kids in general. Once your librarian helps with book suggestions once or twice, you may start to see a trend in which section child's favorite books are coming from and be able to steer them to that section when they are feeling lost.
"What if my child only wants to read books with limited words or comic books?"
Tell them to go for it! To me, reading is reading. I have seen many children have their love of reading spoiled because a teacher or other adult scolded them for reading "easy books" or criticized their choice in books making them feel like what they enjoy reading is not real or meaningful reading. Make sure that your child knows it is okay for them to read whatever they enjoy (within guidelines of what is age appropriate).
If you are concerned that your child is not getting enough out of reading the books that they frequently pick, encourage them to seek books that challenge them. With a little research you may be able to find books that mimic the ones your child enjoys that are a little more challenging. Continue to recommend books that you think your child might like, and enlist the help of the librarian to locate books that have lots of pictures or interesting graphics alongside challenging content.
I highly encourage you to take your child to the library as much as possible this summer. Filling your home with books from the library will keep your child reading, thinking and learning.
What is your favorite thing about the library?