A trip to the library isn’t just about the books. Here are some things that our children can learn from this valuable community resource.
Obviously, the library offers lots of chances to help encourage and develop a love of and the skill of reading. Offering books for everyone from babies to seniors with a huge variety of options, the library is the resource that we should use regularly to offer new worlds, adventures, and skills. Reading isn’t just a life skill that we have to help our kids learn, it’s also the jumping point for creativity and learning many other things.
Learning to find books at the library is a wonderful study in classification. First, it gives kids the chance to learn about fiction and non-fiction and how they are catalogued differently. The fiction books are sorted by author’s last names, which is a lesson in alphabetization. The non-fiction books are sorted by topic and sub-topic, generally following the Dewey Decimal System – a series of detailed numbers assigned to each topic. This is a lesson in understanding number sequencing including multiple decimal values. Being able to understand why all books on a particular subject are together is a great way to develop the ability to classify and sort resources.
Don’t know where to find a book in your library? Use their catalogue – the listing that shows what section to find each book in. These catalogues also tell you if the book is out or available, as well as other similar books.
If you are researching a specific topic, then you can use libraries for all the information you need. Sitting down and learning about the topic with a pile of books or access to their internet is a wonderful way to discover something new. Plus, many libraries have access to special resources – typically called reference materials – that you can only use while you are in the building. These could be archival resources – like old newspapers and photographs, maps, encyclopedias, first editions of books, and locally specific materials.
- Computer Skills
Most libraries offer access to computers and/or the internet. There are usually some for referencing the library catalogue, but there are also some for personal use. This means that kids can have opportunities to use computers, especially if they don’t have access to one at home. Sometimes these offer pre-loaded games and activities, others have safety filters for kid searches, and some are open to anything you might want to use. This is a great chance to discuss computer and internet safety, including the need to log out and keep your sessions private for security.
More and more, libraries have online resources available to their patrons as well. They often team up with companies to offer things like eBooks, second language programs, online courses, and more.
- How to Ask for Help
When you can’t find a resource, even after checking the catalogue, asking for help is the next step. There are librarians for a reason. They are there to help. Kids need to learn how to appropriately request help for what they are looking for, and this is a great chance to do so in a safe environment.
- Ownership & Responsibility
One of the very first things that a kid can get is their very own library card. The sense of ownership that this evokes is huge. It’s a big responsibility to take care of the resources that you borrow and make sure that they aren’t just returned on time, but also in as good of a condition as you borrowed it in. Knowing that there are consequences of actions like losing a book or having it back a week late teaches our kids to be responsible and careful.
- Social Behaviour
There are certain behaviours that are expected in a library setting – being quiet, not running around, putting books that you’ve read somewhere specific to be reshelved, not disturbing other patrons, etc. This is a great opportunity for us to teach our kids that there are social conventions they need to follow in specific settings – they can’t just run wild and scream their heads off.
- Value of Resources (free vs. paid)
Since libraries offer so much to us for free, it’s a great way for us to discuss the value that they provide. Think of how much it would cost to have the same amount of resources in our own home and how much money is saved by being able to access them from free at the library.
The library is often a central point within a community and offers chances for people to get together and connect with each other. There might be book clubs, classes, book sales, fundraisers, craft times, seed banks, meetings, kids programs, and more available. Sometimes there are special guests that come in and offer insight into a topic, or an author that comes in to share their stories and talk with patrons. There are volunteering opportunities. Libraries are often a hustle and bustle zone within a town where people gather to learn together.
The library is so much more than books.
This post is part of a 10 day series all about learning through every experience. Join me as we look at different ways kids learn outside of a textbook and workbook – just by experiencing life.