You may be forgiven for thinking that libraries are a dying breed, full of nothing but books and stuffy librarians. But you would be wrong. Created over 200 years ago with a vision to open access to literature across the classes, and now subject to ruthless local government funding cuts which threaten their future, libraries are hitting back and diversifying to survive, becoming community hubs for people of all ages and, particularly, children.
Shove your shhhh! Libraries are no longer a place of silence
Check out your local library and you’ll not only find the expected books, CDs/DVDs and
eBooks to borrow, but more likely than not you’ll find a dedicated (and fun!) children’s area and a schedule of free activities for children, from storytelling and singing to art and crafts (often led by vibrant and fun library staff!). From our experience, children’s singalong and storytelling events see the library packed out with children eager to get involved in the activities and then staying back at the end to choose their next books to read and borrow. It’s a far cry from the silent libraries of our own childhoods, which were quiet and bland and, frankly, unless you loved books and reading you probably rarely visited.
This child-friendly approach seems to be working. Last year, over 250 million visits were made to British libraries (that’s more than the cinema and theatre), most of which were young people. This is great news for our libraries (stats from Libraries Week 2017).
Find out what’s happening at your local library
We love our local library and can often be found holed up in there for well over an hour at a time as our children read and choose books, play with the Lego blocks and toys, draw on the chalkboard, and dress up in the box full of fancy dress supplies. These things all get their creative juices and imaginations flowing.
We also go to a fantastic weekly singalong session for children at our library, which is completely free and a great way to entertain the children, learn some new songs and meet other mums (if you want to!).
But how do you find out what’s happening at your library?
Many libraries now have a social media presence, so find them on Facebook to stay up to date with events etc. Also check out your local council website which will have more information if social media is limited, and pop into or call the library as they will know about events that are coming up.
What do you love about libraries?
We love the squeals of delight from our girls when we say we’re going to the library. In fact, Lauren’s little girl M will often take her by the hand and lead her to the library
when walking past the road it’s on. Granted our girls do already love books BUT it is the environment our library has created that draws them and others there so excitedly.
If libraries can help children be excited about reading, playing and learning, that’s awesome for their development, creativity and imaginations. We love libraries for doing this and want to see others benefit from them too. So check out what is on at yours and take full advantage of free books, free fun and support these fantastic facilities.
Long live the library!
Do you and your children use your local library? What do you love about your library? Tell us in the comments below.
Read our post by Carnegie-nominated children’s author, Rhian Ivory, on why books are so important for children and also how to get them interested in reading (rather than screen time!).
We also recently shared our favourite bedtime books for infants and young children.
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