While many little ones have been enjoying summer vacation from school since late-May, kids in the DMV have only been out for three weeks. In between all of the outdoor activities and vacations, I’m hoping you’ve also decided to spend some time at your local library. We’re usually there twice a month (if not more) and it’s always a fun time. Besides it being a place to cool down free of charge, here are five reasons why you should be visiting your local library this summer:
1. Check out as money books as you desire
Our children work hard during the school year to learn new skills, so it’s important to keep them active and engaged to avoid the summer slide. Research has shown that kids who read at least four to six books during the summer prevent the dreaded slide and loss of skills. One great way to encourage your child to keep reading is to have a variety of books present at all times. Most libraries allow you to check out a large number of books for at least 2-3 weeks at a time. The maximum at our local library is 100 items!
2. Reading programs
Libraries across the country offer a variety of reading programs to keep readers of all ages challenged. This includes programs such as 1000 Books Before Kindergarten, which encourages parents to read at least 1000 books to their little ones by the age of five. There are often seasonal programs as well. For example, our library had a Summer Blast program where you received points for each book read and for completing activities to promote language and literacy skills for Maya’s age group. We were entered into a raffle for completing the challenge and won tickets for a Washington Nationals baseball game! These programs tend to have lots of cool prizes to keep readers interested.
3. Ability to put books on hold and interlibrary loan services
While I’ve always known libraries provided services such as the ability to put books on hold and the use of interlibrary loans for books that aren’t available at the local branch, I didn’t really start taking advantage of them until about 5 years ago. People often ask how much money we spend on books and are quite shocked when I reply that the bulk of the books we read come from the library. You can also put in requests for specific books to be purchased in person or on the library’s website. We may not read the new release the week it comes out, but that’s never been my priority.
I thank God for the librarians who pull all of our holds. It is an extremely convenient service when I don’t have the time to search through the stacks on my own to find a specific book. Raise your hand if you know how hard it is to try to get a preschooler to walk from shelf to shelf when there are toys, puzzles, computers, and playrooms vying for their attention at the library.
4. Free events
Libraries offer numerous free events throughout the year, but they really ramp up during the summer. Most people are aware that storytimes are offered, but there are other activities such as themed arts and crafts, STEM projects, dance parties, pajama book readings, coding camps, book clubs, and so much more! There are also services such as tutoring and reading assistance. Our library offers a “Read with a Dog” program to help decrease some of the pressure struggling readers may face when reading aloud. There are often older children who volunteer to read to younger children as well to practice skills.
5. Digital loans
This last one is more for parents and older children. We tend not to read a lot of e-books with Maya, but I love to read on my Kindle. I used to purchase books from Amazon all the time, but not anymore! I place new releases on hold and then purchase after reading only if I feel like it’s a book I’d want to revisit in the future. At this point there aren’t many books that I will buy outright (i.e., Becoming by Michelle Obama), thanks to the free digital services offered by CloudLibrary, Libby, Overdrive, and more.