Written by Belinda Huang
A local library is one of the most important resources in a community. It is free to access, full of information and resources, and available to everyone, no matter who they are. Libraries have adapted to new needs as technology grows, offering free WiFi and more to attract the public. As parents, it is important to start taking children to the library early to build a habit and comfort with the routines and people there. Here are three reasons why:
Children learn to love reading
Recent studies confirm that reading with young children is directly linked to strong language skills, from preschool all the way into the teenage years. Good literacy starts early, and libraries have great programs aimed at encouraging kids of all ages to be active readers and learners. Because the library is public, reading becomes a social and fun activity. Libraries bring in authors and speakers to entertain and educate children, and they expose children to the wider literary culture. Even just the range of books available for free at the library keeps children interested in reading instead of getting bored at home. Reading becomes exciting, shared, and dynamic.
Children can use resources for school and fun
The internet is a wonderful tool for research and learning, but there are skills that children can learn better in a library! Expert librarians and researchers can help children navigate and understand all the printed and online knowledge available to them. Children learn how information is classified and organized, and how to know good information from “fake news.” A national study on libraries showed that as they get older, children most often use the library for school-related work. They use the library computers and reference material to complete assignments. By becoming library-goers from a young age, children become comfortable with asking librarians for help and using the full range of resources available to them.
Children can learn independence in a safe environment
According to a 2013 Pew Research study, 71% of parents think libraries are important because they are safe places for children. As public places, libraries are supervised by adults at all times, and they are often open before and after school. This makes them an ideal place for children to spend time if they don’t have other activities to do, without needing parent supervision and without getting into too much trouble. Children can also meet other people from the local community and get to know them in a safe place. As children get older, they can start making choices about the books, programs, and events that most interest them — they can become independent and curious learners by being exposed to all the various things that happen at a local library.
Libraries are not just a resource, they should be a habit, a refuge, and a place for fun. Children who go to the library often from a young age and get to know the people and places in their community become engaged learners, lifelong readers, and community-minded citizens.