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Monday, August 3, 2009

Teaching Children to Use the Library

This post is more an asking post, than a telling post...

I was at the library this week, shopping the shelves for some potential books for Literacy Launchpad lessons. This is not my usual method. I usually have a list I'm working from of specific books I'm on the hunt for; books that I have read reviews about, or that have been recommended by a friend, or books I have read previously. As I randomly scanned through the numerous books, I noticed all the other parents with children there in the children's section, also seemingly doing the very same thing as me. And it made me wonder. Is this method the norm for choosing books at the library? Do we teach our children to just randomly pul books off the shelf, judge them by their covers (You're not supposed to do that, you know!), and then choose whether to take them home or not based on that?

I have some mixed feelings on this matter. I think it's important for children to be part of the choosing process on a trip to the library. But what are we teaching our children about choosing books when we encourage or teach an aimless strategy like this? Not all books are the same. Not all books are good. Is it good to be surprised by our random choices? Or would it be better to teach our children some strategies for finding what they're looking for, or what they might like?

I'm really curious to hear your thoughts on this matter. Please share.

While you think on that, here are my ideas for helping your child learn to find the books at the library that they really want to read:

- Ask a librarian. That's their job! They're there to help. Tell them what you like, or what you want to read about, and let them offer you suggestions!

- Do some research on the internet. I like to look up books I know and like on Amazon, and then check out the links listed on that page of related titles, or look at what books people bought with this favorite book of mine. You can follow some of the links in my sidebar and find book reviews as well as recommended reading lists on those various websites and blog (another place online you can start).

- Find a book your child really likes? Encourage them to find other books by the same author. How cool would it be for your preschooler to already have a favorite author! Maybe you could find a book with some info about that author in it. Perhaps there's a biography written on that author?

- Suggest that your child gets some reading recommendations from their friends. What kind of books do they like? Have they read any good titles lately? What kind of books have they seen their friends reading? Can you picture your child and his friends out on the playground discussing literature? It could happen!

- If your child asks a question you don't know the answer to, or shows a strong interest in something in particular, invite them to explore the topic with you further at the library.

These are just a few suggestions...

I think teaching children how to use the library with purpose at a young age helps nurture a love of books and reading. It empowers and motivates them to read more... now that they know how to find the books they really want to read!

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